This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.
Who? Directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson
Why? All aboard for Tony Scott's Unstoppable with Denzel Washington playing veteran railroad engineer Frank Barnes, who is forced to deal with an unmanned runaway train in Pennsylvania. Yes, Washington just played a train dispatcher for Scott in another terror-train flick—The Taking of Pelham 123—only two years ago, so shake off the déjà vu feeling because this is one hell of a ride. Star Trek's Chris Pine is also onboard in Unstoppable as Will Colson—a young train conductor faced with a challenging first day on the job.
As the runaway train—which, by the way, has eight cars filled with the explosive material phenol—rockets through small towns in Pennsylvania, yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) tries to clear the tracks and locks horns with upper management about how and if they should derail the speeder. Frank has a better idea: Run another engine in reverse on the track to catch up with the runaway train, latch on and then apply the brakes to slow it down. The plan is crazy enough that it might work, but if the crazy train reaches a dangerous elevated curve in the town of Stanton and doesn't keep its wheels on the track, we're talking a mega life-threatening explosion and millions of dollars in damage.
is based on the real "Crazy Eights" incident that took place in Ohio in 2001 after an engineer jumped out of a slow-moving train to line a switch, mistakenly believing that he had properly set the train's dynamic braking system. He didn't, of course, and neither did his counterpart in Unstoppable
—a movie about how many people it takes to clean up a mess when one person royally screws up. Sure, this is more one long action sequence than a fully-realized dramatic movie, but this is from the action man who directed Man on Fire, Crimson Tide, Days of Thunder
and Top Gun
, so you know what you signed up for. Scott sends the camera all over the frame to cover the speeding train from every angle imaginable, plus the movie got nominated for a Best Sound Editing Oscar for the whooshing sound of trains and the screeching of metal on metal that really gives your home theater's surround system a workout.
Washington and Pine might have underdeveloped characters that ultimately play supporting roles to their speeding metal co-star, but the heroic duo still risks life and limb against an unholy roller in a film that refuses to let you relax until the end credits.
What Else?: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain an audio commentary by Scott and "Tracking the Story: Unstoppable Script Development." The BD exclusives include "The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable," "Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene," "Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work" and "On the Rails with the Director and Cast."