Who's In It: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Corrigan, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Dunn
The Basics: Thanks to negligence and, ultimately, corporate greed, a freight train carrying toxic chemicals is zooming into a highly populated area of Pennsylvania, which makes it, in the awesome words of Rosario Dawson's character, "A MISSILE THE SIZE OF THE CHRYSLER BUILDING!" Standing in the way of the furious locomotive is Denzel Washington, his perpetual aura of alpha-dog confrontation fully intact and engaged here, as a disgruntled rail employee soon to face forced early retirement at half benefits (while the fat-cat boss man plays golf and gambles with the lives of innocent citizens). His assistant is rookie partner Chris Pine, who may have flown a space ship in Star Trek but isn't as skilled with runaway trains. At least not until the script makes it Hero Time.
What's The Deal: You have to have never seen a movie before to be surprised by how this all turns out, but that shouldn't stop you from seeing it and having a really great time. That's mostly thanks to director Tony Scott, an incredibly hyperactive filmmaker. He likes everything loud and face-punchy, his camera whiplashes you like a rickety wooden roller coaster and he's not much for making subtle points about anything. His bad guys are cold and callous, his good guys are Average Joes with stuff to prove. And while you could re-enact the whole story in 10 seconds using the Junior Mints you got at concession as stand-ins for both the train and the people, Scott's talent is making you tense up, yell, "WATCH OUT FOR THAT COMMUTER TRAIN FULL OF SCHOOL CHILDREN!" at the screen and forget you already know how it's all going to turn out.
Coolest Thing About It: The opening shots of the movie make it look like it's going to be a slasher film or the trains are all about to eat you alive. And the terror train careening down the tracks is about as Jaws-like as an inanimate object can be. It's shot like a monster with a mission to track down humans and obliterate them. You really do want that in a movie about a killer choo-choo.
The Other Coolest Thing About It: Old-school special effects. Real explosions. They even shot an actual train derailment. Take that CGI.
What To Bring With You To The Theater: Earplugs. There are more booms, crashes, screeches, and joltingly loud sound effects here than you've seen in a movie all year long. Like take Iron Man 2 and Paranormal Activity 2 and Jennifer Aniston in The Bounty Hunter and put them all together. This will damage your eardrums more.