Unstoppable is a movie engineered to excite you if you’re one for American formula thrillers. You know right away that this film is about an unmanned train tooting away at 70 miles (approximately 113 kilometers) per hour wrecking havoc on its trail. But if you are a thriller addict, you can also predict the entire screenplay, as these films are pretty much like each other. So here is the not-so-secret recipe for a Hollywood blockbuster that best defines this film.
1. The movie begins in a calm aimless way. So that you sink into your seat, only to be thrown right out of it later when the thrilling part begins. The lead cast, train conductor Will (Chris Pine) meets veteran train engineer Frank (Denzel Washington) with whom he is supposed to work with. They exchange several sarcastic dialogues and you know what will follow. The classic ‘amateur white man teams up with experienced black man’ routine. They hate each other, don’t respect each other and eventually when they combo up to save the world of a potentially devastating disaster, they get personal and at one point you hope they don’t end up kissing each other. Also they need to have troubled family lives for some reason. So Will is bitter about suspecting his wife on cheating on him and Frank has two daughters who work at Hooters (fair enough).
2. The disaster is triggered off by Dewey (Ethan Suplee) who has made a career out of playing a fat dement (he is Earl’s brother from the TV series ‘My Name is Earl’). Dewey demonstrates his sub-zero intellect when he is asked to move an engine to allow another to move out of the yard. In doing so, he gets off the moving locomotive to correct a technical glitch, leaving the engine on full throttle. No prize for guessing the result. The locomotive gains speed and our rather obese Einstein can’t catch up to re-board and the train speeds out of the yard and into the mainline. And this movie is based on true events? What is the average American IQ again?
3. Now, in the real world, this would be considered a major crisis situation. But in Holly-world, you can’t shove in all the excitement in the beginning. It has to grow over time. So the yard master Connie’s (Rosario Dawson) first plan of action is to send the same idiot Dewey along with another extra to go chase the train in a car and attempt to stop it, while she orders the rail traffic control to clear the tracks.
4. But then big disasters can only be averted through quirky solutions. So Connie also gets Ned (Lew Temple) on the job. Ned is a poor man’s John Lennon, a hippie-turned-welder (yes, they all got real jobs by the early eighties), perpetually dressed as a 70s country musician, with a penchant for flirting with waitresses. Ok! Too much information for someone so insignificant in the movie. Ned gets on his van and is also chasing the runaway train till the last scene. His highlight in the movie is when he gets so excited that he overtakes the train at one point towards the end.
5. You know that character actors are just for comic relief and to make our lead heroes (Frank and Will) look better and braver. So cut back to our duo. As expected, Frank is unnecessarily giving Will a hard time while teaching him a thing or two about the rail system, as they cruise about in a train engine. Connie informs them about the disaster on wheels that is heading bang-on towards them. To add to the excitement they can’t shift tracks for another several miles. Now is when you scream.
6. Such films feed on screams and this film is beautifully grotesque with its VFX to induce just that. The unmanned train rams past cars, smashes boogies of passing trains etc. But this isn’t enough, people want more excitement. So here you go. The runaway train is also tugging along cargo boogies which contain about 30,000 litres of a highly explosive chemical (molten phenol) and the emergency stop button is just above the fuel tank and a lot more, leaving no option to avoid destruction.
7. Now in movies, like in the real world, a catastrophe is not one, until the media doesn’t report it to be. So news channels are constantly airing the progress of the train gone wild with exclusive footage from the helicopter following the train. The only problem is that the voiceover given by the reporter is extremely stupid and obvious. Like when Will actually falls in the shaft between the two trains and visibly injures himself, the voiceover adds, “Looks like Will is hurt.” Really? We thought he was kicking back at a park biting into a blueberry cheese cake! 8. Now every thriller has to have a bad guy who is only interested in the company’s stock price and not about how many lives are lost. So here’s presenting Galvin (Kevin Dunn), Connie’s boss and final decision-maker. His chief role is to stomp over Connie’s ideas on how to tackle this situation just because they would probably mean losses for the company.
8. As this film reaches its last leg and our duo are about to accomplish what everyone else couldn’t, you wonder if they know enough to pull it off. Don’t we need a random technical guy to come and second their plan? That’s when random rail safety expert who was hanging around at the rail traffic control at that very point gets on the call. He assures our daredevils to attempt the feat of trying to pull the train from the back. One of them actually says, “We’re gonna catch that train by it’s tail!”
9. Finally, the day is saved, after many death-defying stunts. Connie comes to congratulate the boys. Her first words are, “I still have just one problem!” The boys are shocked. She smiles adding, “I don’t know which one of you, I should kiss first.” Everyone is relieved.
Source: Yahoo! Movies