New Washington flick set to be an “Unstoppable” box office force

By Kate MacDonald

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Denzel Washington and Chris Pine take the surprisingly exciting world of railway transportation by storm in director Tony Scott’s new film “Unstoppable.” The movie, based on a real-life runaway train incident in 2001, downplays the heroics of the protagonists, while providing enough action sequences to keep the audience of the edge of their seats for nearly the whole movie.

Who hasn’t cut corners to make their job a little easier and quicker? That had to be the mindset of Dewey, a careless railway worker played by Ethan Suplee (“My Name is Earl”). The inept employee fails to connect the air breaks of the train soon nicknamed “The Beast” and jumps off, not realizing the levers controlling the speed have fallen.

“The Beast,” carrying toxic materials, is now virtually “Unstoppable.”

Frank Barnes, played by Washington, and Pine’s Will Colson are left to pick up the pieces, or risk having the train derail in a town with a population of 100,000. The subplots help to keep the audience’s attention – Colson must deal with an estranged wife and Barnes has to help put two daughters through school while being forced into retirement.

Denzel Washington is a certified Hollywood star, known to take complete control of most movies he appears in. As Barnes, he brings emotions and a steadfast dedication to his job, which gives the viewer a tangible sense of urgency. While he not surprisingly plays his role well, working man-turned- hero Pine, too, must be given praise.

Not yet a definite Tinseltown leading man, Pine did a great job playing Colson. He shows the audience that while he’s quite obviously a rookie, he must learn to work well with Barnes and execute his job correctly, because the consequences could be dire otherwise. Though known for a starring role in “Star Trek,” it is in “Unstoppable” that Pine shows his staying power on the silver screen.

Both Barnes and Colson must band together to figure out a way to stop this 71 mile-per-hour runaway train. Helping them is Connie Hooper, played by Rosario Dawson. Known for roles in “Rent” and “Sin City,” her character in “Unstoppable” is in charge of the rail yard. Again, her role is well-played, with Hooper’s evident stress adding to the pressure of the storyline.

As if the stress of trying to guide two men through the rails as they attempt to catch and stop “The Beast,” she’s also got to contend with her boss, Michael Galvin, played by Kevin Dunn of “Transformers” fame, who is nearly as much a protagonist as the train itself is. The audience is kept rapt as factors keep stacking up against Barnes and Colson as they attempt to stop “The Beast” on its path of destruction.

Cinematography can truly make or break an action film of this sort. The crew of “Unstoppable” worked together to create a film full of action sequences of all kinds. The audience is treated to a soundtrack of running trains, helicopter blades, sirens and media crews as they watch full-frame shots of the train hurtling towards the town of Stanton.

 While their use of a shaky camera shot can often leave viewers nauseous or with the feeling that they’re experiencing either shoddy work or are in an earthquake, it only adds to the film in the case of “Unstoppable.” Viewers are transported onto trains along with the main characters and are left with the feeling that they are part of the action.

 Though “Unstoppable” is not a completely perfect film (emotional moments are sometimes lacking and much of the premise and plot points are very similar to the movie “Speed”), it is a thoroughly decent action flick. The characters have good chemistry and the action sequences are performed without flaw.

It is evident from the tagline, “1,000,000 Tons, 100,000 Lives, 100 Minutes,” and action-filled trailers that one thing is certain: audience members will not be able to take their eyes away from the screen while watching “Unstoppable.”

Kate MacDonald can be contacted at [email protected].