Due to the ineptitude of one worker (Ethan Supplee), one of the trains in Southern Pennsylvania kinda runs off. Runaway trains are apparently not that uncommon, so everybody stays rather cool until it’s discovered that the train isn’t a coaster, but is under power and has picked up quite some speed. Now track manager [or whatever the official title is] Connie (Rosario Dawson) has to see to it that the damage stays as small as possible. She gets unexpected help from train-driver Frank (Denzel Washington) and conductor Will (Chris Pine) who are on the same track as the rogue train.
Unstoppable opens with the most dramatic credits I have ever seen: We see still standing trains, but the font, its animation and the frantic cutting suggest that we see the last few secones before an explosion. It is painful to watch – but it all goes downhill from there. Especially the cutting and Scott’s direction just never get any better.
Since this is based on a true story, I don’t know how much I can blame on the script writer but seriously, people, did this train company not have any kind of contigency plan? Didn’t they at least have somebody who knew physics the teensiest, tiniest bit? I mean, I could tell them that their plan wasn’t going to work – and when I have more physics knowledge than somebody, it’s a scary fact. And that it takes anybody 90 minutes into a disaster to get out a pencil and some paper [because the poor railroaders apparently can’t afford computers] to make some calculations in this situation is fucking ridiculous.
And then there’s the whole relationship between Will and his wife. She just got a restraining order filed against him because Will pulled a gun on a family friend because Will thought the guy was texting with his wife. He’s basically unrepentant about this and definitely doesn’t understand that she would file a restraining order. And yet, we’re supposed to cheer when they get back together in the end. Seriously, no.
Anyway, apart from that crap, there were some good laughs, especially when the film tried to be all serious. [Says the TV announcer, “The AWVA train number 777, also called triple 7, …” Why, thank you for pointing that out – I don’t think I could have made that deduction otherwise.] And sometimes, it even got slightly surreal, for example when they show the approaching train (that is supposed to be freaking fast) and they choose the shot where you can see a beaver (or something like that) getting out of the way – and not even particularly fast.
The only good thing about this movie was the cast, most of all Rosario Dawson. Her Connie is competent, intelligent and great and Dawson plays her with a lot of energy. Compared to that, both Denzel Washington and Chris Pine pale, even though they weren’t bad. Ethan Supplee has the misfortune of being typecast, but he does his usual role well. Apart from that there’s just no reason to watch this movie.
Summarising: Just leave it be.