While Denzel Washington joins Chris Pine to try to stop yet another runaway train in Unstoppable, we take a look back at these 10 buses, trains and ships you DON’T want to have a ticket to ride.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Walter Matthau matched wits with train hijacker Robert Shaw as Tokyo rail executives watched the drama unfold in Chicago. Blue (Shaw) and his partners Green, Grey and Brown want a million dollars delivered to the hijacked train in an hour or they’ll start killing one passenger for each minute of delay, which, really, doesn’t make much sense. Think about it. Hypothetically, if you’ve got 60 hostages and the authorities are 64 minutes late, is Blue going to kill everyone and then turn the gun on himself? Sigh--movie criminals. Speaking of which, Quentin Tarantino has stated that he got the idea of using colors to name his characters in Reservoir Dogs from this movie.
The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 (2009) Thirty-five years later Tony Scott upped the profanity, moved the setting to New York City and bathed his remake in his trademark blue- and orange-tinted lighting. Denzel Washington took over the Matthau role while John Travolta, complete with neck tattoo and fu manchu mustache, played the baddie Robert Shaw with help from Luis Guzman and Victor Gojdaj. The bounty was raised to $10 million and the same inexplicable, “I’ll kill one hostage for every minute you’re late” logic remained. Scott used numerous countdowns to string along the suspense i.e. “You’ve got five seconds to answer my question! Five, four, three, two…”
Under Siege 2 (1995) Steven Seagal comes to the rescue. In this sequel, Seagal’s Casey Ryback hops on a Colorado-to-L.A. train for a vacation with his niece. The only problem is, well, Eric Bogosian and a group of terrorists have boarded the train and are using it as a mobile headquarters to hijack a top secret destructive U.S. satellite. Naturally, nobody screws with Seagal’s schedule, secret satellites be damned, especially when his niece, played by Katherine Heigl, is on board!
Derailed (2002) On an out-of-control train holding hostages and high-tech bio-weapons, Jean-Claude Van Damme falls nicely into his stereotypical role of a one-man army sent to derail the terrorists and save the lives of everyone on board. Of course, thanks to movie magic, Van Damme is able to get the job done, but behind the scenes, he broke a hand while getting knocked down by a stuntman on the set in the final fight scene. Hmm, maybe that’s why he didn’t end up in The Expendables.
The Runaway Bus (1954) The Speed movie before there was a Speed movie. Only this time, Dennis Hopper isn’t trying to blow the bus up. Rather, a heavy fog has descended upon a London airport and an airline bus offers to transport a group of passengers to an alternative airport. The thing is, one of the bus riders is the mastermind behind a gold-bullion robbery and the fog provides the perfect getaway opp. Way to go Mother Nature!
Speed (1994) The movie that launched the phrase “Pop quiz, hot shot” into pop culture infamy finds Sandra Bullock on an booby-trapped Santa Monica city bus. If the speedometer drops below 55 mph, the vehicle will explode faster than Joe Pesci’s temper in Goodfellas. Thank goodness, then, that Ted “Theodore” Logan of Bill and Ted a.k.a. Keanu Reeves is there to save the day. Whoa, indeed.
Speed 2 (1997) Bullock sure has bad luck when it comes to getting from A to B. On this journey, a computer hacker, played by a maniacally devious Willem Dafoe, breaks into the computer system of a cruise liner and sends it speeding on a collision course with a giant oil tanker. Luckily, this time Michael from The Lost Boys (Jason Patric) is there to save the day. No joke.
The General (1927) Buster Keaton’s comedy is perhaps one of the first, if not most well-known, early movies about runaway transportation. The plot revolves around the stern-faced Keaton as Johnny Gray, a young man who loves his train, “The General,” and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward. Union spies capture “The General” with Annabelle on board and Johnny must rescue both his loves.
Titanic (1997) Sure, it’s all good times, Irish dancing and drawing nude pictures of Kate Winslet to pass the hours, but then all hell breaks loose. Guess that’s karma’s way of putting you in your place when you proclaim yourself “King of the World” on the front of a massive ship whose Kryptonite comes in the form of a massive iceberg. Behind the performances of its two charismatic leads, James Cameron’s go-for-broke budget and an annoyingly catchy Celine Dion ballad, Titanic ruled the box office until Cameron one-upped himself with a movie about blue people with tails and giant ears. Go figure.
United 93 (2006) Of the two major studio releases that focused on the events of September 11, 2001, Paul Greengrass’s suspense-thriller United 93 put us on board the hijacked plane and gave us a real-time account of the events of what happened to the plane that would ultimately crash near Shanksville, PA. The movie detailed the confusion and chaos in Greengrass’s trademark quasi-documentary-style camerawork and earned him a Best Director Oscar nomination and the BAFTA Award for Best Director.
Runaway Train (1985) Jon Voight and Eric Roberts are a pair of convicts that have escaped from prison and as luck? fate? would have it, they’ve managed to climb on board a train to sweet, sweet freedom. Of course, the only problem is the train they’ve boarded has no brakes and nobody is driving. The movie also marks the debut of veteran movie tough-guy Danny Trejo and was based on a screenplay by legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.