ACTION; 1hr 38min
STARRING: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Cabin fever: from left, Pine and Washington
If there’s anything more dangerous than a runaway train, it’s a runaway monster-sized freight train carrying hazardous cargo. Director Tony Scott is all over choo choos: his 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, also starring Washington, was a cracker on wheels. The juggernaut in Unstoppable is an unmanned machine “the size of the Chrysler building,” to quote a terse Dawson, holding steady as the yardmaster on the case. It’s hurtling towards all kinds of catastrophe and the only hope of stopping it, and thereby saving Pennsylvania’s collective bacon, is a locomotive with veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Washington) and rookie conductor Will Colson (Pine) on board.
Scott packs maximum pep into the critical race, intercutting at up-close, zip-zap speed between the pandemonium on the tracks and the white-knuckle back-room jockeying. Incredibly, the perpetual motion is based on real events. With their bluffly unsentimental backbone and stubborn resolve, Washington and Pine keep it as real as any regular guys could be — even those for whom life-and-death limits are the definition of a day’s work.