What she said:


What could be more entertaining than an out of control ghost train screaming down commercial/commuter tracks in Western Pennsylvania?  Not much, really.  Unstoppable is the vaguely true story of a runaway cargo train carrying toxic chemicals that threatens to devastate rural America.  Only Denzel Washington and Captain Kirk…er…Chris Pine can save the day.  They’re apparently the only people in this movie with enough brains to successfully rein in the beast.

This 90-minute movie is the perfect length and actually a lot of fun.  Sure, you have to excuse some blatantly obtuse, and somewhat poorly written, plot devices.  It’s pure stupidity that causes this accident to occur in the first point.  Seriously, that guy’s an engineer?  But the movie does keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat.

Washington plays an old-timer engineer who is a little grumpy but heroically knowledgeable.  Pine is a rookie punk conductor who has lots of demons in his closet.  The two of them learn of the runaway train and take it upon themselves to work together to save the day.  They’re pretty amazing, and that ‘ole Denzel still is a spry fella.  It’s fun to watch a lot of idiotic people make dumb mistakes, but not to worry, Washington and Pine will clean up the mess.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up. 

***If you know anything about the real CSX 8888 incident, you may be a bit perplexed and disappointed.  The writers kept some things true to reality, but really keyed other points up to Hollywood-ize the movie.  One thing that kind bugged me is that they moved the entire setting to another state (Pennsylvania), but kept a lot of the actual town names (from Ohio).  Why?

erest you, don’t bother.  Otherwise, pencil it in for a Saturday afternoon.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

What he said:


Do yourself a favor and either completely avoid reading about the real life events that inspired this movie, or at the very least wait until you finished the movie. If you manage to do that, you should enjoy this fast-paced, entertaining thrill ride.

Chris “Captain Kirk” Pine plays a rookie conductor and Denzel Washington plays the Obi-Wan Kenobi of engineers.  It’s certainly not a new formula, but one that I felt worked just fine in this movie. Denzel knows what he’s doing and Pine’s performance of a young guy down on his luck seemed legit to me.

After some boneheaded mistakes by some guys in the train yard, a ridiculously long runaway slowly gains speed and goes from something of a laughable problem (a 10 mph moving train) to a serious threat once it gains speed and it’s discovered the cargo is a highly explosive substance.

Action movies that don’t have a villain are something I don’t often get excited about. It’s not something that I see and say “Oooh I’ve got to see that”. But if done well, they can be enjoyable and this movie succeeds in doing that. It’ll certainly entertain you for a few hours.

Prognosis: Thumbs up

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 4, 2011.