Who’s In It: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Dunn, Kevin Corrigan, T.J. Miller, Jessy Schram
The Basics: "Runaway train, never going back... wrong way on a one-way track..." -- AHEM. There’s a freight train running conductor-less in rural Pennsylvania, and it’s gaining speed. It’s headed right for the Hooters where Denzel Washington’s daughters work! Where Chris Pine’s estranged wife and son live! Can these two likable everymen team up to halt this seemingly unstoppable choo-choo of death while corporate fat cats sit back and do nothing?? (Hint: Yes they can, but you already knew that.)
What’s The Deal: Director Tony Scott reteams with Denzel Washington after making such modern classics as Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Déjà Vu, and last year’s crazy-train movie, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. In TonZel’s second train movie in a row, however, the result is more of the same: Working class hero Denzel is recruited to save a populace from danger on the tracks, only this time the villain’s a machine made of steel instead of the vamping John Travolta and his evil guy mustache. Unstoppable wants desperately to strike a “real life” feeling, but with Scott pulling every tired filmmaking trick in his limited playbook (dizzying cuts, aerial shots, requisite explosions every two minutes no matter what’s happening on screen) every shred of true story credence becomes lost in a flurry of facepalm-inducing character decisions, headache-inducing edits and stupid, preposterous action. Give over to the unintentional absurdity of it all and you might be able to enjoy Unstoppable for what it is: A silly, brainless thriller destined for the cinematic wasteland where Steven Seagal movies and high concept duds go to die.
Who’s Taking It More Seriously Than You: Not Denzel; even Denzel knows he can do these roles in his sleep. Flash the pearly whites, gaze with conviction, show a few cracks, good-naturedly rib the new guy, be the hero because it’s the right thing to do, cash that $20 million paycheck. Chris Pine, however, pouts and glares and emotes as Will Colson, the new kid in the train yard with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. (The perfectly scruffy Pine comes to life when paired with Denzel, but neither is served by their respective family drama subplots.) Also earning her keep is Rosario Dawson as the ball-busting lady yardmaster tasked with guiding our heroes even as her corporate bosses write them off as doomed collateral damage. Meanwhile, veteran character actor Kevin Corrigan also shows up in a supporting role to teach a master class in subtlety; the buffoonish duo of Ethan Suplee and T.J. Miller should have taken notes.
How Many Police Cars Flip Over On Their Own For No Reason: One, which demonstrates a shocking degree of restraint for a Tony Scott actioner. The film’s somewhat of a slow build, but once it reaches full steam there are plenty of fiery explosions, blazing sirens, frenetic news reports, car chases, trains playing chicken, near-disasters, sideswiped objects that blow up, obstacles and people and horses trapped in the path of the Evil Train, and marquee Hollywood stars leaping and running across moving train cars to keep our senses assaulted for 98 minutes.
The Actress-Slash-Former Mrs. Tom Cruise-Turned-Pro Poker Player Who Randomly Co-Produced Unstoppable And Partly Came Up With The Idea: Mimi Rogers, who we can also thank for converting then-husband Cruise to Scientology, thus keeping us entertained for many generations. Thanks a bunch, Mimi! Really. For everything.