Directed by Tony Scott
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Review by Jordan
There are two ways that a characters occupation can be utilized in a movie. It can be arbitrary to the plot, either normal or quirky to add superficial substance or opportunities for throwaway lines or the usage of otherwise unexplainable skills/knowledge (see: most movies), or the job itself can be the catalyst for the plot, providing the location, situations and elements of interest (see: Clerks, Gravity, End of Watch and many more…) as well as the title of the film itself (Repo Man, The Lifeguard).
The very nature of work itself is one that’s always intrigued me, in that we can be good at it, poor at it, enthusiastic, indifferent or excited about it depending on what we do and how long we’ve been doing it. Regardless of occupation and years of service though, one thing that is as certain as the taxes we pay is that we can have our good days, and our bad days, and for some unfortunate people those bad days can be worse than most others…
Dewey, a careless, slack, overweight freight train driver has one such day, when he is begrudgingly made to move a train, fails to connect the secondary brakes, jumps out while it is slowly moving to manually adjust the track before the train then shifts into acceleration and takes off without him, careening down the track at 70 mph in Tony Scott’s Unstoppable… he and his chump then try in vain to stop it but only succeed in realizing the enormity of the trouble they’re in once their attempt fails and its revealed that the cargo is highly toxic and if punctured in a populated area (Stanton would fit into that category then) could result in one of America’s greatest tragedies.
Yep, one of those days you wished you called in sick…
Of course, thanks to two heroic put-upon pals (the grizzled veteran and the young yellow-vested punk) the disaster is averted, but not before a freight container sized amount of excitement is generated for a surprisingly attentive audience. I say surprised, because 90 minutes of runaway train action is perhaps not everyone’s cup of coffee, but remembering the action classic with a similar concept that is Speed (1994), and that the director here is none other than the Late, masterful Tony Scott (The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, Man on Fire) in his 2nd of five collaborations with Denzel Washington, perhaps it should be expected after all.
Apparently based on a true story, Unstoppable still appears farfetched and although here the unique (in Australia anyway) occupation isn’t tacked on and gets to be explored the relationships certainly are, with new conductor Will’s (Chris Pine) tale of mistrust and separation particularly contrived. Still, its a thriller, and thrill it does, helped by an appreciated dash of Rosario Dawson and some impressively staged action set-pieces shot at break-neck pace.
Above all though, Unstoppable deserves credit for being a movie in which the main characters job is more than just a line of dialogue or shirt and tie, it’s the driver for the narrative itself and that should be appreciated.