Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Unstoppable (2010)

This afternoon we went and saw not one but two new movies! I can't remember the last time I saw two new movies in one day -- and truth to tell, there usually aren't all that many new movies we'd like to see anyway. We watched UNSTOPPABLE back to back with MORNING GLORY, and a very good time was had by all.

UNSTOPPABLE, "inspired by true events," is the story of a runaway freight train carrying toxic chemicals. My understanding is some of the facts were exaggerated for the film, including the runaway train's top speed; setting aside what was real and what wasn't, this film is terrific entertainment.

Frank (Denzel Washington) and Will (Chris Pine) are two working-class railroad employees in Pennsylvania; engineer Frank is on the edge of involuntary retirement, and Will is a conductor trainee. They're on a routine run one morning when they get word there's an unmanned train loaded with hazardous chemicals headed their way. Attempts to stop the unmanned train have been unsuccessful, and it seems there will be certain disaster when it ultimately reaches an elevated curve in a track in Will's hometown. Then Frank develops a game plan to stop it...

This is an interesting, exciting film with solid performances. There are a couple moments near the end which seemed implausible, but for the most part the film seems to be grounded in reality, which makes it even more of a nailbiter.

Washington and Pine, whose characters are initially wary of one another, have good camaraderie, and I especially liked Rosario Dawson as Connie, the yard operator who helps navigate the incident to its conclusion. Lew Temple is also particularly good as Ned, a welder who initially seems laid-back -- he's always late for work -- but he drives his pickup like a race car driver and is instrumental in dealing with the crisis.

This film is rated PG-13, but other than some language it's a fairly family-friendly movie depicting ordinary men willing to risk their lives to help others.

Trailers are available at IMDb.

The movie was directed by Tony Scott, who's also executive producer of the excellent TV series THE GOOD WIFE. I particularly admired the photography by Ben Seresin which gives the film a gritty, authentic look.

Incidentally, I'd have loved to see THE KING'S SPEECH this weekend, but despite all its publicity and excellent release date reviews, it appears to be playing in only four theaters in the entire country! That seems like a botched marketing campaign.


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