Review: [In Memory of Tony Scott 1944-2012] UNSTOPPABLE (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 21 September 2012

Review: [In Memory of Tony Scott 1944-2012] UNSTOPPABLE (2010)

This is the re-post of my review for UNSTOPPABLE dated on November 28, 2010. It is also sadly his unexpected final movie before Tony Scott took his own life two years later. I was personally expecting him making a great comeback when he announced he's up for the long-awaited TOP GUN 2 with Tom Cruise. After all, TOP GUN was the genre-defining movie that launched Scott's directing career. With two of his upcoming feature-movie projects, EMMA'S WAR and TOP GUN 2 hanging in limbo, I hope someone else will carry on his legacy.


Following from 2009's inferior remake of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3, Tony Scott and Denzel Washington seems to continue their obsession over train-based action picture and this time the result is UNSTOPPABLE. You must be thinking a title like UNSTOPPABLE sounds like a pure popcorn fun best suited for summer movie release and the fact that the trailer looks comparatively like the 1994's genre-defining SPEED (where both movies shared almost the same identical premise, only with different setting and without a villain). Too bad what could have been a highly-entertaining, thrill-a-minute action movie turns out to be a painfully tedious ride and yet served another disappointment for both Tony Scott and Denzel Washington.

Inspired by a true event, the movie centers on a newbie train operator Will (Chris Pine) and seasoned veteran engineer Frank (Denzel Washington) discover that a runaway train carrying a load of dangerous chemicals is headed fast for Will's small Pennsylvania hometown, where his wife and young daughter live. When an attempted rescue from the air fails to rectify the situation and what's worse resulting the death of a train operator, Will and Frank decide to volunteer to save the day. With the outside help via radio communication from a railway controller named Connie (Rosario Dawson), they guide against each other to catch up with the runaway train as fast as they can. Along the process, they are facing obstacle against Galvin (Kevin Dunn), the head of the train company, who is more interested in saving the stock price than saving life.

Despite the promising setup, the movie fails to ignite the spark it supposed to be. Sure, cinematographer Ben Seresin and director Tony Scott tries hard to mimic their relentless camerawork by literally swooping non-stop at all possible angles on the speeding train with the aid of frantic editing. At first, it works well against the subject matter but it also doesn't take long before the gimmick wears off and everything starts to become tedious and repetitive. Not to mention the fact that Tony Scott's usual haywire over camera movements (particularly the ever-present circling-around-the-actor camerawork) is as annoying as ever it's almost a case of motion sickness. Technically, there are little creativity in term of crafting action set piece and suspense here other than watching a series of the same old lengthy wild chases that cut back and forth between a lengthy phone conversations in the railway control center with various groups of people, TV's Fox News coverage, and of course scene with Will and Frank.

In the meantime, Mark Bomback's script is awfully pedestrian with all the standard formula you've come to expect for this kind of genre, and the characters are strictly caricatures. Even the presence of Denzel Washington as the grizzled veteran is more of the same we've seen him in the past.

The only best thing comes close to redeem this otherwise tedious piece of work, is the climactic finale where Will and Frank attempt to prevent the speeding train from derailing off the sharp curve. Too bad the excitement happens too short and too fast.

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