Movie Review: Unstoppable

Tuesday night is cheap movie tickets and I figured seeing a movie by myself in a theater is marginally more social than sitting around my office writing t–shirt descriptions.  Plus it gives me something to write about for this blog, so win-win.

I chose Unstoppable in hopes it would suck so I could write some scathing review that would be really funny.  I tend to be better, I think, when I am bitching about something.  The trailers made it look like a bad Speed remake, and the fact that Chris Pine was one of the stars was going to give me a window to express my issues with the last Star Trek movie in a humorous manner.

In truth, I was disappointed.  Not in the movie sucking, but rather in the fact that it was actually really, really entertaining.  I have always been a fan of Denzel Washington, and I guess I should have had more faith in his ability to distinguish between a good script and Battlefield Earth.  Kudos, Denzel!

The story is pretty basic.  Some white trash moron sends a train loaded with explosive toxic chemicals down the a track with no one at the controls and the deadman switch (one of the coolest phrases of all time) disconnected.  Denzel plays a grizzled train engineer veteran and Chris Pine the newbie conductor (they obviously live in the parallel universe where amazingly hot guys get blue collar jobs).  There is some sub plots involving Chris’s estranged wife and Denzel’s stunningly hot Hooters waitress daughters, but most of the entirety of the movie involved figuring out how to stop the train before it blows up most of Pennsylvania.

That’s pretty much it, but about 40 minutes into the movie something really strange started to happen.  “What is this weird, new sensation I am experiencing?” I asked.  I pondered for a minute and suddenly figured it out.  It was excitement.  Yes, for the first time in years of movies I was excited by the action of the film, and honestly concerned for the well being of the characters.  It was like seeing my first ever movie all over again.  It was about 100 times more exciting than anything from Tron Legacy that I saw last week.

Let’s let the stars speak for themselves.  The story is based on real events.  One star.  It involves trains.  One star.  The sub plots did not dominate the story or annoy me.  One star.  Both Denzel and Chris played their characters extremely well.  One star.  The writers did not break any of the laws of physics or thermodynamics in order to make the movie more exciting.  One star.  The action was both exciting and believable.  One star.  All the women were hot.  One star.  They did not force one of the main characters to be a chick for sex appeal (cough cough Sandra Bullock Speed cough cough).  One star.  Nobody did something blatantly stupid, and all the character motivations were clear and believable.  One star.  The camera work really immersed you in the movie, making it seem like you were in the action.  One star.  Net result: 10 stars.

Now the black holes, as there are very few movies without them.  They managed to write in a train full of 150 grade school kids on a train safety field trip (???  What school has money to burn on something like that?  For god’s sake it’s insulting) in danger of running headlong into the train early on in a pathetic attempt to either draw out sympathy or make it seem somehow more “real”.  Two black holes.  The guy from the government sent down to lecture said children on train safety (how much time does it take to say “Keep your head and arms inside the train at all times”?) was by amazing coincidence an expert on all things train related, including the nature of the toxic cargo carried by the train (molten phenol).  One black hole.  They managed to crowbar in a scene where the police SWAT teams shoot at the train with assault rifles in an attempt to hit some kind of stop switch that can be activated with bullets.  One black hole.  That’s it.  Four black holes total.

Net result is a whopping six stars, my highest score to date.  Honestly, this is a really fun movie.  It is not a movie about anyone coming to grips with feelings or anything, so if you want to see something like that wait for Love and Other Drugs.  It is also, with the exception of the aforementioned attempt to stop the train with bullets, not a shoot-em-up or action film in the classic sense.  However, I think most people will enjoy it and have a pleasant evening, especially if you can see it for $5.

In answer to yesterdays who-would-win question, it is my opinion that Frank Castle’s training, experience, and more versatile equipment (including his body armor) would give the Punisher the ability to beat Jayne Cobb, in spite of Jayne’s superior attitude.  Sad but true.  (Punisher image courtesy of the Punisher t shirts).

For today, let’s consider what would happen if Maxwell Smart had to fight Austin Powers.  Who would win?

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