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Unstoppable Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 22 November 2010 07:27
Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Certificate: 15

Black Man vs Train. Black Man wins. After The Taking of Pelham 123 and Training Day, everyone's been waiting for Denzel Washington to complete his Train Trilogy. Luckily, Tony Scott was on hand for this ludicrously true tale of an unstoppable train. Which stops. But don't worry: there's a lot of stuff that happens before it does. Some of it involves children. And hazardous chemicals. It's good fun, even if you have a brain. If you don't, brain rhymes with train, so you'll probably enjoy it even more.

It's a trademark Tony Scott opening: shaky slow-motion footage of carriages sitting stationary in a siding. The titles appear, accompanied by Menacing Music. The message is clear: trains are bad. Even when sitting still, they're plotting to railroad your home and eat your children.

All it takes to unleash one of these unstoppable metal beasts is a dimwit railway employee. As he works his doofus magic, we meet another two train men. They aren't dumb and they haven't gone on strike, so they are therefore The Good Guys. One of them looks like Denzel Washington, who is, as we all know, cinema's everyman. He has a phone. He has a daughter who doesn't talk to him. He spends a lot of his time using the phone to try and talk to said daughter.

At his side is Will (Pine), a young engineer who's training for the job to avoid his Complicated Backstory. He also has a phone. And a woman in his life who won't talk to him. Together, they bond over the women who aren't talking to either of them and look at their phones whenever they're not busy getting on with the plot. Which, in case you've forgotten, involves stopping a really fast train.

Cutting between a tense control room and the choo-choo of death, Scott shoves in a lot of Fox News, which works only because it's unintentionally funny. Particularly when a team of troopers shoot at the engine as it rushes past, trying to hit the fuel valve, centimetres away from the much bigger, and highly flammable, fuel tank. But for all the faux-TV footage, this is clearly far from real life. If it was, someone in the media would have used the headline "Braking News" at least five times - a missed opportunity.

At all times, Scott whizzes the camera about at speeds in excess of 60mph - if the director goes any slower, then he blows up. And so we have lots of exploding stuff, trains hitting stuff and Rosario Dawson explaining stuff. Even helicopters turn up at one point. It's basically the ending of Mission: Impossible or Speed, but dragged out for 90 minutes. Unstoppable is a dumb, dynamic piece of film-making. Which is exactly what Pelham 123 wanted to be. 


Black Man vs Train. Black Man wins. Who needs more when you're dealing with a missile the size of the Chrysler building? 


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