run time: 98 mins
considered: Action, Thriller
starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn, Lew Temple, Ethen Suplee, T.J. Miller, Jessy Schram
movie summary: In the quiet back country of western Pennsylvania a runaway train is on the main line speeding into one small town after another destroying everything in its path.
The day begins when Veteran Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad (AWVR) employees Dewey (Ethan Suplee) and Gilleece (T.J. Miller) are instructed to move the freight train #777 off the main line and into a side track at the yard in Fuller, Pennsylvania. Dewey is in the locomotive running the controls when he pushes the throttle to full power to move the long train which is over 35 cars long, he notices the switch is not in the proper position so decides to hop out and switch it himself. The air brakes are not connected and the unmanned train picks up speed as Dewey attempts to climb back on before falling off. When yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) gets to work she is informed of the situation but is only told the train is unmanned and moving slow. She dispatches lead welder Ned Oldham (Lew Temple) to hunt down the train but he can’t find it, which leads to them to realise the train is running at full power and is now considered a coaster.
Down the line there is a train filled with kids which is headed to Fuller on a train safety field trip. Dispatch reports that train #777 is headed straight for them and they must divert to the next side track. Within minutes the red #777 is roaring towards the field trip train which manages to sneak into the sidetrack seconds before impact. Connie has been on the phone with vice-president of train operations Oscar Galvin (Kevin Dunn) who pulls rank on her and says he’s got the situation under control and has deployed teams to derail the freight train.
Over in Stanton, Pennsylvania conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) is headed to work for the first day, when he gets assigned to work with veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) on locomotive #1206. They have an easy day ahead, just need to pick up 20 cars from Stanton and bring them down the main line to Fuller. Will makes an error and attached five extra cars which makes them a longer train then planned. Connie learns that #1206 is on the main line and that #777 is only a few miles from them. She radios Frank who says they can’t fit into the side track and must continue to travel north on the line to the next side track. Train #777 causes an explosion just a mile or so north of Frank and Will, who manage to get 21 cars into the side track, before the coaster runs right through the final four cars without any problem.
Galvin’s plans for derailment fail on three separate occasions, while #777 continues to speed away going over 75 mph through rural Pennsylvania. This runaway train is headed straight for Stanton and the famous elevated curve, which Frank knows the speed limit is only 15 mph, and that #777 will not make the corner without derailing and causing a potential disaster. He instructs Will to unhook the 20 cars so they can hop back on the main line and catch up to the runaway train, hook up to the last car, and apply the brakes in an attempt to slow it down.
Train #1206 revs up its speed to 70 mph and catches up with #777 and in an attempt to connect Will gets badly injured. After crushing his foot he makes the coupling connection and heads back to the front where Frank blows out the train’s brakes attempting to slow #777 down. He puts Will in control and attempts to brake each car one at a time until he reaches a car that he can’t cross over. The brakes are shot, the individual car brakes haven’t slowed the train down, and the dangerous Stanton curve is coming up. Frank and Will have limited time and resources, but must stop the train any way possible.
my thoughts: I have recommended Unstoppable to a few people who thought I was crazy for speaking so highly about this film, but this is an edge of your seat thrill ride that is worth a watch. I remember watching this movie in 2010 at the theatre and was so nervous to see Chris Pine and Denzel Washington try their best to stop this speeding runaway train. The story idea for this movie came from a real life runaway train incident in Ohio back in 2001.
I understand that this is a fictional movie with some unrealistic stunts, but Hollywood plays up the drama to keep the audience engaged in the movie about a train. There are plenty of action sequences, explosions, and heart stopping moments to make the casual movie goer sit back and enjoy, while keeping the adrenaline junkie happy with the chase scenes.
my star rating: 9 out 10