As a steady stream of action that’s based on real events, Unstoppable definitely doesn’t disappoint. The film follows two men and their community as they attempt stop a runaway train before it derails and does mass destruction. Denzel Washington headlines as veteran engineer Frank Barnes, though it’s a young Will Colson (Chris Pine) who takes center stage in the movie. Both men are excellent, and Pine takes his chance to prove his ability as an actor. The story presented in Unstoppable reflects the actual events from a 2001 incident in Walbridge, Ohio. The film is directed by Tony Scott, who will likely receive praise for the camera angles and special effects.
As a hard-working train conductor, Will Colson is experiencing trouble in his personal life when he’s put in the situation detailed in Unstoppable. After being put onto a job site where Frank Barnes (Washington) has worked for 28 years, Will Colson is scheduled to work as his conductor for the day. The two bicker half-heartedly until word of a runaway train reaches them. The train is apparently on their track and headed in the opposite direction. In the film version of the story, this unmanned train took off from a yard in northern Pennsylvania where an employee chose to temporarily forego a minor procedure. Though authorities initially believe it’s coasting, the train nicknamed number seven is careening down the railway at around 70 mph. Making things much worse is the fact hazardous chemicals are aboard the cars.
The train is headed towards a town that features a railroad curve around which large chemical buildings are situated. Given the weight of the vehicle and the speed at which it’s traveling, experts guarantee it will not be able to make the town’s infamous curve. If and when it derails, the contents of Train Seven will collide with the nearby buildings, surely resulting in a colossal explosion. Colson’s wife and young son live in the nearby city. The young conductor trusts Barnes in his plan to stop the unmanned train, which involves chasing it in a separate locomotive. Railroad execs don’t feel the same way though, and Barnes is told that his choice to take such action will mean his job.
The idea of the movie being based on a true story made it come across as more meaningful. It was fascinating in its circumstances, as it’s hard to imagine what anyone could do about an unmanned train that’s going 70 miles per hour. The anxiety and fear of such a predicament is brought back to life by Unstoppable. There is little plot development in this film, as a majority of the screen time is taken up by Washington and Pine as well as troubled railroad executives who are brainstorming solutions. This style, in other words a steady stream of action, probably wouldn’t work well for most movies, but it does for this one. Christy Lemire, a writer for The Great Falls Tribune, writes, “Finally, we’ve found the ideal use for Tony Scott’s hyperkinetic, headache-inducing filmmaking style.”
Bottom line: 4 out of 5 stars. Unstoppable is a good action thriller that’s made better by the fact it’s based on real events. The story at the heart of the movie asks men to put courage before fear and other people before themselves. Chris Pine and Denzel Washington are a great combination in that their characters are polar opposites, but they end up connecting as a result of their circumstances.
While the factual events make the movie better for some, those with knowledge of what really happened might not anticipate the end of it. Still this weak point is not strong enough to derail (no pun intended) the intense, action-packed adventure that is Unstoppable.