Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Unstoppable

      Tony Scott puts his hyperactive directing style to good use in his third film in four years starring Denzel Washington. It's also his second in two years to star a train. Who would have thought that a giant machine that travels at varying speeds on a fixed path could be interesting?
     Well, Scott apparently does, but he still has to do a lot to make this story about an unmanned, explosive filled train palatable. For one, there's that typical Tony Scott flair; few shots last more than five seconds, and in the ones that do, the camera finds enough time to spin 360 degrees around characters, trains or helicopters. Scott rarely finds time to linger on anything; the characters are given some cursory back stories--just enough to build them up, without boring us with details. Even the action flies right by, one expensive stunt making room for another before we even have time to think about what happened. To add some depth, there's (minor) conflict between rookies and old timers, working class heroes and corporate big shots. The movie is made to feel timely; Denzel's character has just been laid off, and worn down Pennsylvania towns form the setting.
     All of this is good because the movie is as entertaining a movie about a runaway train as I can imagine, and it's more entertaining than many other movies that aren't about runaway trains. The movie may be entirely forgettable, but at least it isn't weighed down by self importance or too much emotion. Unstoppable can be enjoyed for its frenetic energy alone.


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