‘Unstoppable’ Review

Published 4 years ago by

unstoppable reviews Unstoppable Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman Reviews Unstoppable

This is the second “train movie” in a row for director Tony Scott. His previous film was the remake The Taking of Pelham 123, and now we have have Unstoppable, a film “inspired by true events” (aka very loosely based on a real even with many liberties taken). Both films have something in common: A “retro” feel that reminds one of movies made back in the 70s through early 80s.

Unstoppable is loosely based on the story of a runaway train in Ohio back in 2001, where two railroad workers went above and beyond, managing to bring it to a stop. Here the two workers are rookie conductor Will (Chris Pine) and 28 year veteran engineer Frank (Denzel Washington). Frank is a by the book railroad man, going through checklists in a manner that makes him look like an airline pilot prepping a plane for departure. His approach to his job is the complete opposite of the two slackers who set the train in motion – without the air brakes functioning. That last bit is the “gotcha” – as any sort of dead man’s switch will not work with those disconnected.

Their lack of care sets an event in motion that puts thousands of people’s lives at risk due to the toxic chemical cargo and the fact that the train is set to travel at 70+ miles per hour.

The story takes us through the events, showing them to us from the point of view of Frank and Will (who are drawn into the situation initially unintentionally), the Yardmaster (in charge of the control center) Connie (Rosario Dawson) and the corporate office. As depicted, the main concern of the corporate side is the potential cost impact – although according to Connie derailing the train in an unpopulated area is the best chance to stop the train and avoid a devastating accident, the company decides to try a different method that will potentially save them $100 million.

As you may guess, the corporate strategy fails miserably.

Enter Frank and Will. Frank is more willing to take matters into his own hands to stop the train than Will – until Will learns that the train could make it to Scranton, where his wife and son live – and that is where the accident would happen, causing massive death and destruction. They come up with their own plan, and go against company orders to try to stop the one million pound behemoth from killing thousands of people.

Although the audience should already know how this will turn out, director Tony Scott does an admirable job of keeping the tension throughout the film. Watching events unfold will keep you engaged and on the edge of your seat, while the performances by Denzel and Pine are definitely enough to carry the story. Other than the constant movement of the camera, the style, cinematography and overall look of the film are reminiscent of action dramas from the 70s. This gives the movie a more gritty, realistic feel than it might have had under another director who might have made a polished, shiny film.

Another great thing Scott does here is he is very effective at showing just how dangerous these monstrous trains are. Even before the potential disaster is set in motion you get a feel for how careful the people who work on, around and managing these locomotives must be. There really aren’t any lulls in the film – it’s suspenseful from start to finish, and the lack of CGI (as far as I could tell) just adds to the impact and experience.

For those worrying that all you’ll notice on the screen is Captain Kirk, the film does an excellent job of “de-Kirking” Chris Pine right from the start of the film. He looks rough and tumble, unshaven and is visibly shaken by the recent estrangement between him and his wife not long ago – caught up in the pain and regret of being separated from his family due to a stupid mistake. He gives a good performance – good enough that he draws you in far enough that you’ll see him only as “Will” and not… James. simple smile Unstoppable Review

As for Denzel Washington, what can you say? The man is an awesome actor and has a magnetic screen presence. I’ll go see pretty much any film he’s in. He can play anyone from a polished businessman to a blue collar worker, and you’ll buy it every time.

Is there some deep, complex story here? No. But is it an effective, gripping action-drama that will leave you satisfied when the credits role? Yes, indeed.

Here’s the trailer for Unstoppable:

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If you want to talk about details of the film without worrying about spoiling it for others, head on over to our Unstoppable spoilers discussion.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. Yeah, I’m gonna check this out. Pine is pretty cool. Washington..that goes without saying.

  2. saw this last weekend And I will probaby dsee it again this weekend
    because I was sitting close to someone texting during some of the best parts of the film.

    • Gary, next time take the cell out of his/her hand and break it. :)

      • HAHAHA! Yes i agree with Ants on this one 😛

        • I agree but don’t break it. Just throat punch them and take it. Those things are worth a crapload ‘O molla!

          • A throat chop is much more indiscreet and quicker, with the same effect

            • meant discreet*

  3. When I asked her to stop texting she was was so surprised when she heard the sound of my voice her cellphone fell in between her legs !
    She caught it with her knees.
    And the ironic thing is when she left I heard her say,”That was a really good movie “!

  4. Gonna go watch it tonight. Looks pretty good. Wasn’t a fan of Denzel Washington before, but I’ve kind of changed my mind lately after rewatching some of his movies…

  5. I definitely want to see this. I’ve always liked Denzel, even in the movies I didn’t care for he was always good.

  6. Thanks Vic,

    This looks like a pretty good movie. Definitely going to check it out.

  7. Really looking forward to this. I’m a huge fan of Washington and Chris Pine has really grown on me I honestly think he would of been a better choice for GL than Reynolds, but then again a lot of people would of been. Movie looks fun, exciting and with just a touch of something under the surface with fantastic acting.

    Looks much better than the crap fest skyline.

  8. I really want to like this. But does it have the same hyper-stylized over-editing of Tony Scott’s other movies of the last few years?

  9. Does he do a Captain Kirk dropkick?

    • No

  10. This was a good movie, and I am glad it was not tainted by the 3D Invasion that has taken hold of hollywood. Can’t wait for the DVD/Blu Ray release

    • Well, even if it was shot in 3D, it’s still the same movie, watch a 2D showing and you would have had the same experience… Unless somehow you knowing that it was filmed in 3D in the back of your mind will make you enjoy it less or something?? *shrug*

      • @ Ken J

        The 3D gimmick does not appeal to me. I personally enjoy 2D better because of my glasses it doesn’t really pop out. I would have passed it this was a 3D only film.

        • Ok, but my point is that even if this movie was shot in 3D, you don’t HAVE to watch it in 3D, so technically it wouldn’t affect the quality of the film for you since you would just watch a 2D showing… You were making it seem like if it had an optional 3D showing that somehow it would have made this movie worse…

  11. The movie was actually pretty awesome. I was worried that if the entire movie took place on a train that’s stuck on tracks, there’s not much that can keep you entertained, but I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole way through, so I definitely recommend this movie. The dialog sounded very authentic too, another thing that kept you immersed in the movie. Thumbs up. :-)

  12. “and the lack of CGI (as far as I could tell)”

    ummm, really?
    just from the trailer I can see tons of CGI.
    I know you wanted to like this film, but willful blindness is not a quality.

    (the scene of the train flying round a corner, half the wheels off the track…”

    Just because the CGI is well-done, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    • Mike E.

      Did you miss the “as far as I could tell”?

      And compared to a lot of action movies today, it didn’t seem like there was much CGI.

      Did you like the movie at all? Or are you just going to give me grief over 5 words out of a 800 word review?


      • “Did you miss the ‘as far as I could tell'”?

        Nope, since I quoted it in my message.

        It would seem that “giving you grief” is my lot in life :p

        • Mike E.

          ROFLMAO! 😀 Indeed, it does feel that way sometimes, dude.


  13. Just saw the movie tonight & as always another great performance by Denzel Washington. A edge of your seat kind of film, better than previews made it out to be.

  14. just saw the parody from SNL on hulu, it’s worth checking out. Jay Pharoahs (I believe) does a pretty good Denzel impression.

  15. I wanted to see Harry Potter, but the movie was sold out, but saw Unstoppable instead. I was on the edge of my seat through most of the movie. A definite must for action fans.

  16. Luv it

  17. i guess the purpose of this blog is to comment whether you “like the film, or not” ( not important if anybody like the author or not).i saw the film and gave my two thumbs up for it. Not just for the actors but for ALL the people behind it. ENCORE! That’s what entertainment is all about.

  18. Saw this today. Yes the storyline is weak but the acting and pacing of the film is great. After seeing Jackass 3D previously before this movie, it serves as a healthy reminder that Hollywood can still entertain not in 3D and not by grosing people out and using violence. There is one death in the film, and some cry babies may not like that, but other than that the film entertains wonderfully without being violent in the slightest. ( Like SAW or Jackass)
    I was gripped throughout, and the only thing I could fault is the jolty camerawork when nothing was happening. I think a more simplistic approach to the none action scenes would of served the movie better.

    *** stars

  19. I just got back from “Unstoppable” and your review was spot on Vic (even though I read it after the fact). I too liked the realism of the movie with no hit-you-over-the-head CGI. And I never once thought of Chris Pine as Captain Kirk. I was impressed by the sustained suspense. The movie kept up a fast pace from beginning to end and I was completely drawn into it.

  20. Unstoppable apparently is stoppable. So first of all, it is a silly title. I did not feel any heart racing watching this movie. The only cool thing was the cinematography.
    The drama was not too much, the tv news (the screen angle) seemed so impossible. Perhaps it would be more interesting if they made it into documentary based the original incident.

  21. What a fanastic Movie!! OMG great Direction, Cinematography and performance!
    Denzil and chris pine did the perfect job!!!.The movie is so realistic.
    am still thrilled and come out from its hangover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Amazingly superb thrilling movie. we want more movies like this.Tony scotts
    work always great!Hats off!!