Some of the best stories ever are based off simple and predictable premises yet due to the nature of the storytelling they are thrilling, nail biters that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Unstoppable, the new Tony Scott film, is one of these types of stories. The film focuses on the simple idea of a runaway freight train that needs to be stopped and through his signature directorial style, Scott is able to make his most tense film in a decade and a half.
Much like a train starting to move, Unstoppable starts off at a slow pace but it quickly moves into full throttle and does not let up until the adrenaline fueled ending. Will Colson (Chris Pine) is a rookie conductor who gets paired up with engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington), a 28 year railway vet and the two could not be more at odds than their company tenure indicates. Neither seems willing to give the other an inch as they set about doing their run for the day but little do they know that speeding towards them is a half mile long runaway train intent on destroying anything that gets in its path.
Once Will and Frank get news that they are on a collision course with the train of death, it becomes a frantic race to get to safety. But Will and Frank getting to safety is not the only race against the clock because the runaway train needs to be stopped before it reaches the heavily populated town of Stanton, Pennsylvania and causes a major chemical disaster and of course after all else fails, it will fall to Will and Frank to save the day.
The film is helped a lot by the fact that Will and Frank are highly relatable characters. They both have their faults but they are likeable because of those faults. Together Washington and Pine deliver exceptional performances and the two have great chemistry, working quite well off of each other and are probably the best pairing of actors in a Tony Scott film since Washington and Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide. Washington and Pine might be the main focus of the film but it should be noted that the beautiful Rosario Dawson also gives a fine performance as the yardmaster, Connie Hooper.
As great as I found Unstoppable to be, everything that happens in the film is extremely predictable and I was never surprised by what happened next. The saving grace though is the way Scott frames shots, edits, and paces the film, as Unstoppable had me on the edge of my seat the entire screening despite the story being on rails. Simply put, Unstoppable is an adrenaline ride from start to finish and it has been a long time since Tony Scott has delivered a film this good.
4 out of 5.