Gone are the days of non-horror suspense films. For many people, experiencing that heart-racing feeling during a film usually means there’s a bad guy lurking around a corner waiting to kill off the unsuspecting victim. Suspense is something a lot of directors strive for but don’t usually hit because they either bookend the scenes with lingering close-ups or creepy music that is so obvious to fans we don’t even pay attention anymore. Basically, what I’m saying is it’s a rarity to see a film that is truly suspenseful, but UNSTOPPABLE is one of those films that has moments that will give you chills and have you biting off your fingernails in pure suspense.
Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and Will Colson (Chris Pine) are an engineer and conductor who are about to experience one of the worst days on the job. As they are going about their business working on the railways, they are told that there is a runaway train with toxic chemicals on board barreling towards the town of Scranton, PA and they are the only ones who have a shot of stopping it.
At the beginning of the film we are shown a couple of railway workers who make a mistake that just spirals out of control right before our eyes. We know what is coming but there is nothing we can do to stop it which throws us into the intensity of the situation. One of the best aspects of this film is how director Tony Scott made the runaway train (#777) an actual character. Periodically throughout the film we get a shot of the train barreling forward at breakneck speed and for a split second you get this sense that it’s actually a live being that is bent on destroying everything in its path. It was very reminiscent of how Spielberg made Jaws something more than just an animal and almost gave it a soul with intentions.
Even though the intensity was great and fun to watch, the train was by far and away the best character in the film. Sure, Denzel Washington, Chris Pine and even Rosario Dawson did a good job with what they had to work with, but it was tough to connect with their characters even though we are stuck in the locomotive or office with them for about over half of the film. It was almost difficult to root for any of the humans in the film because we saw so many errors that were made along the way in this catastrophe. From the bonehead who stuck the train in full speed, to the Vice President who didn’t want to derail the train due to financial reasons- it was really tough to care about any characters. A major downfall in any film, but I gotta give props to Scott for making me love that runaway train.
To sum up, UNSTOPPABLE isn’t a great piece of film and probably won’t win any awards, but it was fun to watch. It was able to keep up a great intensity and made something as boring and common as a train come to life, and really, nobody has seen that since Thomas the Tank Engine.
Video (Widescreen 2.40:1)– It was bright and clear even though the film was shot a little “gritty”, but it came through nicely.
Audio (5.1 DTS-HD)– Beautiful sound, you can hear the train coming at you from every speaker in your system.
Audio Commentaries: We get one solo from director Tony Scott in which he pretty much discusses everything you normally hear in one of these tracks but we also get one with Scott and screenwriter Mark Bomback which is far more interesting as they compare screenplay to finished work. If you are going to just choose one, choose the one called Tracking the Story: Unstoppable Script Development-good stuff.
The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable (29:42)– This is your obligatory making of featurette, but still interesting to watch.
Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene (10:01)-We get to see Tony Scott shoot a real life train derailment.
Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work (14:24)- A featurette about all the stunts in the film, which was more than you may think.
On the Rails with the Director and Cast (13:24)– Cast and crew discussing the making of the film.
BD-Live Exclusive: Feeling the Heat-Unstoppable Pyrotechnics– Do I need to tell you what this is about?