After a disappointing experience last summer in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington gets much better results this time in another train thriller called Unstoppable, in which he reunites with director Tony Scott for a crowd-pleasing high-speed rail adventure.
Scott immediately establishes the dominance and sheer power of the story’s adversary, Train 777, which is unleashed on a Southern Pennsylvania community through the stupidity of a bumbling transit worker, Dewey (Ethan Supple). The film is based on a true story. Carrying more than 30 cars with flammable material in tow, 777 is an enormous speeding missile the size of the Chrysler building ripping across the countryside unattended.
Tasked with stopping this pending tragedy is veteran engineer, Frank (Washington) several weeks from retirement and in the midst of another “training day” with rookie conductor, Will (Chris Pine) who is dealing with personal issues of his own. After some initial apprehension, the two bond as they first elude and later track down 777 before it derails and takes out an entire community.
Overseeing the mayhem from inside the safety of her office and acting as the eyes and ears of the pair is Connie (Rosario Dawson), who manages the situation despite the objections of her stubborn superior, Galvin (Kevin Chapman). Her character, described as a “ballbuster,” provides some much needed girl power to this boy’s club.
Despite some secondary subplots that either fail to advance the story or provide unneeded comic relief, the film’s true star is the menacing 777, which takes out any and everything in its path with its speed and power.
Unstoppable reunites Washington and Scott for their fifth film together. Washington appears quite comfortable working with Scott and his understated performance is right on the money. Pine is solid in a secondary role reminiscent of Ethan Hawke’s work in Training Day. Dawson continues to display her versatility and effortless professionalism with yet another winning performance.
Approaching his third decade of acting, Washington still maintains a commanding on-screen persona. His days as the sexiest man alive may be long gone but the new grittier seasoned version excels in The Book of Eli and this film. After the disappointing box office of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Washington shows that while he may no longer be Unstoppable, he still rocks enough “Denzel Swag” to get the job done!