Star cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Director: Tony Scott
Plot: A train carrying toxic cargo is hurtling down a busy rail route without a motorman on board. After several failed attempts at derailing it, railroad engineers Denzel Washington and Chris Pine make a courageous attempt to slow down the runaway train by latching their engine to the train from behind.
What’s Good: Denzel Washington’s realistic portrayal of a courageous motorman; the engaging and exciting script; the racy cinematography and editing.
What’s Bad: The climax – the audience will expect the film to end in a more dramatic fashion.
Verdict: Unstoppable has excitement but not much novelty.
Loo break: None. Even if you have to go, you will not!
Twentieth Century Fox’s Unstoppable is a fast-paced action thriller about two courageous railroad employees who manage to control an unmanned runaway train carrying a cargo of toxic chemicals, before the train hits a populated town.
Will Colson (Chris Pine) is a conductor in the Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad (AWVR), US, and Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) is an engineer. While Will is new on the job, Frank has been serving the company for 28 years and has been recently fired from his job and is now serving his notice period. Frank and his other colleagues resent Will getting a job due to his family connections. Frank and Will are, nevertheless, working together for the day and they set about their day’s tasks in the southern Pennsylvania town of Stanton, from where they board their locomotive for a Zinc plant.
Meanwhile, in Fuller Yard in northern Pennsylvania, a pair of hostlers (locomotive handlers) is moving a half-a-mile-long goods train to another track so that a school children’s excursion train can get out of the yard. In a hurry, one of the hostlers, Dewey (Ethan Suplee), starts moving the train without the air brake on. He turns the throttle to its highest setting to activate the train’s dynamic brakes and gets off the engine in order to manually switch tracks. While he is outside, the levers fall in the cab of their own accord and Dewey cannot reboard the train. The train has now gained speed and it leaves Fuller Yard for the main line, unmanned. Yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) finds out that they have a runaway train on the main line, with trains coming from the opposite direction, and she assumes that the dead man’s switch will trigger the brakes and that the train will stop after a few miles from the yard. She asks the hostlers to follow the train and calls Ned (Lew Temple) to meet the hostlers where they can get in his truck, catch the train and stop it.
By the time the three get at the destination, they realise the train is under power and going too fast to catch. Back at Fuller Yard, Connie realises that the runaway train is hurtling down the main line at full speed, with some of its tank cars having molten phenol, a hazardous material. She and her superior at the railroad company, Michael Galvin (Kevin Dunn), fight about how to stop the train. The company’s plan of stopping the runaway train by derailing it fails; as does its misguided attempt of putting two locomotives on the line ahead of the runaway and slowing it down; a marine also attempts to board the runaway’s locomotive from a helicopter, but this too fails. All this, in the meanwhile, becomes a media event after the train smashes through a horse trailer caught on the tracks at one junction. When Frank and Will avoid a head-on collision with the runaway by a whisker, Frank devises a novel plan – they will follow the runaway in their locomotive in reverse, and latch on to the train’s last car, thus trying to slow it down. Even though they are dissuaded, even warned about being fired, they go ahead with the extremely dangerous plan. Do they succeed? What happens when the train hits the populated towns on its path? The rest of the film and the climax answer these questions.