There’s a workinghorse-like mentality to all of Tony Scott’s films. You certainly know what to expect. Always enjoyable and seldom misfiring, his catalog of film is the stuff of legend (from Top Gun to Déjà Vu). Recently though, the machinery of Tony Scott’s approach has been a little sloppy and self-indulgent crossing too far over into Michael Bay territory to go unnoticed. To suggest that The Taking of Pelham 123 was a disappointment is putting it mildly. Thankfully, that momentarily defeat was self-contained.
Unstoppable, maybe a tad quieter than others in its approach to story and male bravado, is no less different than his classic films and every bit a true Tony Scott film. Clocking in a little over 90 minutes, the lean muscle of Unstoppable presents us with Scott in a welcomed return to form.
The story – written by Mark Bomback – is relatively simple. Thanks to the clumsy efforts of workers Dewey (Ethan Suplee) and Gilleece (T.J. Miller), a train, powered but without its engineer, threatens to barrel down on Scranton, PA. Newly partnered Will Colson (Chris Pine), a conductor for Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad, and veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) find themselves in position – only after avoiding a head-on collision with it – to be the only ones with the chance to bring it to a stop. Guided by yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson), the two must work as a team – something they begrudgingly do – and find a way to bring the unmanned machine to rest before it takes out innocent civilians and poisons the town with its toxic contents of molten phenol.
Both Washington and Pine know the type of movie they are in and they bring the needed levels for this film to be both engaging and exciting. Their characters aren’t too developed, but that’s alright. We get all we need to know from them in order to understand the politics of the script. They are both hungry men – one of action and one of thought – but both driven to get a job done.
Scott doesn’t direct this film as maniacally as he did the generally ill-received Domino, but some of those zooming frames are intact in the cinematography of Ben Seresin . This time, though, the camera peers and swoops and looms with a gathering momentum not unlike that of the freight train that lies at the center of this story. Deftly edited together to be all meat and no fat, Unstoppable is as exciting as the CSX 8888 incident from 2001 that inspired it.
Inspired by true events, Scott’s film is exactly what its title says it is: unstoppable. You simply cannot look away from this looming lean machine. Intense and exact, the story is a thrilling ride upon a steady beast of momentum and madness. Sure some of the moments have been exaggerated in order to service the dramatic needs of the tightly-wound script, but, when it’s all said and done, this is B movie paradise with expert direction.
Unstoppable is one train you won’t want to miss.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language.
Director: Tony Scott
Writer: Mark Bomback
Cast: Chris Pine; Denzel Washington; Rosario Dawson; Ethan Suplee; Kevin Dunn
Genre: Action | Thriller
Tagline: 1 million tons of steel. 100,000 lives at stake. 100 minutes to impact.
Memorable Movie Quote: "This ain't training. In training they just give you an F. Out here you get killed. "
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Official Site: unstoppablemovie.com
Release Date: November 12, 2010
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: February 15, 2011
Synopsis: Denzel Washington plays a veteran engineer who jumps into a locomotive with a young conductor (Chris Pine) to stop an unmanned runaway train loaded with toxic cargo.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - February 15, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin (Traditional)
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); BD-Live; Mobile features
With a wickedly cool visualized color palette, Scott’s film is a visual knockout in its 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. The primaries are popping with juicy reds and fresh yellows and the edge to the grain gives this one a wonderful package of visual gloss. The black levels are steeped in the boldest of coffee grounds and kick the contrast into orbit with a great look. Tony Scott always makes the prettiest of films and Unstoppable, complete with its bass-thumping DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, is no different. This is simply a fantastic looking release.
- With two tracks, one provided by Scott and the other by Scott and writer Mark Bomback, one would think one would be complete fluff. Not the case as both cover the making of the film, but the one co-hosted by Bomback is a serious must listen for those interested in the fine art of screenplays. Quite interesting to listen to Scott and Bomback tear apart the script as they work out its problems.
Surprisingly, this disc is a filmmakers treasure chest of wealth and information. With interesting featurettes and two great commentaries, this blu-ray set might just be of great interest for anyone looking for a career inside the golden gates of Tinseltown.
The breakdown of supplemental material is as follows:
- The Fastest Track: Unleashing ‘Unstoppable’ (30 min)
- Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene (10 min)
- Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work (14 min)
- On the Rails with the Director and Cast (13 min)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Sneak Peak for ‘Machete’ and ‘Casino Jack’
- BD-Live Functionality
- IMDb Live Lookup