Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tony Scott's Skill Undeniable in "Unstoppable"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 92 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Unstoppable (2010)
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language
DIRECTOR: Tony Scott
WRITER: Mark Bomback
PRODUCERS: Eric McLeod, Mimi Rogers, Tony Scott, Julie Yorn, and Alex Young
EDITOR: Robert Duffy and Chris Lebenzon
COMPOSER: Harry Gregson-Williams


Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Dunn, Kevin Corrigan, Kevin Chapman, Lew Temple, Elizabeth Mathis, Meagan Tandy, Jessy Schram, and David Warshofsky

Unstoppable, a new action thriller, is the fifth collaboration between Oscar-winning actor, Denzel Washington, and director Tony Scott, known for his stylish action movies and thrillers. The two have made some entertaining films (Crimson Tide, Man on Fire), but Unstoppable is truly a fine piece of work. It is a nail-biter, an edge-of-your seat thriller, and a heart-stopping movie that has many in the audience clapping, cheering, and laughing. Unstoppable is the great summer movie that somehow missed the summer.

The film focuses on Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington), a veteran locomotive engineer, and Will Colson (Chris Pine), a rookie train conductor. As the old guy being put out to pasture and the new guy who got in because of family connections, respectively, the two naturally find tension and conflict between them. That is put aside when a half-mile freight train ends up on the loose with no humans onboard to control it. The runaway train is headed for the Stanton Curve in Stanton, Pennsylvania, at 70 miles per hour, and it is carrying combustible liquids and toxic chemicals. Any train hitting the Stanton Curve at more than 15 miles per hour will derail to disaster. When all attempts fail to stop the locomotive, Barnes and Colson are the only people who can stop the train, but can they get to it in time?

I find it strange to write that Unstoppable is a Denzel Washington movie that is actually not quite a Denzel Washington movie. Of course, Washington is, as usual, good, and so is Chris Pine. The veteran Washington doesn’t steal thunder from his younger costar, as Pine’s Colson has plenty of opportunities to be heroic and shine. Both Barnes and Colson, however, are regular guys; they’re working stiffs. They are not necessarily hero types, although they do heroic things, and that serves this movie well, because, as I just said, this is not just a Denzel Washington movie. Unstoppable is a runaway-train-of-doom movie.

Director Tony Scott and screenwriter Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard) have transformed the locomotive into something as exciting and as mesmerizing as any Hollywood movie star. Scott not only makes the threat of annihilation by train seem real, but also the working class small towns threatened by the train and the gritty train yards where the mechanical beast originated.

This movie probably won’t win any Oscars, although composer Harry Gregson-Williams’ pounding, textured score (which at one pointed mimicked the sound of a panicked heartbeat) should get some consideration. With this film, Scott puts forth a directorial effort that doesn’t take second place to any of this year’s most popular action-oriented films like Alice in Wonderland and Inception. Bomback has fashioned a story that we need now – the tale of two men way over their heads and out of their league who put their lives on the line for people they don’t even know. Without a load of fancy CGI, Scott has reminded us that real world threats are every bit as scary as aliens and evil wizards.

Tony Scott has crafted a superb film. It’s one of those good movies we’re always demanding. Unstoppable, don’t stop yourself from seeing it.

8 of 10

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment