Inspired by true events, Unstoppable follows an experienced engineer (Denzel Washington’s Frank Barnes) and a green conductor (Chris Pine’s Will Colson) as they attempt to stop a runaway freight train before it derails in or near a major city – with their efforts compounded by a variety of outside forces (including interference from a penny-pinching group of executives, led by Kevin Dunn’s Galvin). It’s a decidedly thin premise that’s employed to entertaining (if unspectacular) effect by director Tony Scott, as the filmmaker, working from Mark Bomback’s screenplay, does a nice job of establishing the gritty (and surprisingly authentic) environment within which the various characters reside. It’s clear, however, that Washington and Pine deserve the lion’s share of praise for the film’s success, with the palpable chemistry between their respective characters ensuring that Unstoppable is often at its best when just focused on Frank and Will’s conversations and, eventually, efforts at stopping that train. Having said that, Scott has certainly sprinkled the proceedings with a number of palpably thrilling scenes and interludes – with the highlight undoubtedly a tense sequence in which Will attempts to couple a stand-alone engine to the out-of-control locomotive. The end result is a consistently watchable thriller that gets the job done quickly and efficiently, which cements Unstoppable‘s place as one of Scott’s more successful endeavors as of late.
*** out of ****