Wednesday, 21 September 2011

'Unstoppable' DVD Review

Having heard great things about this (86% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) as well as seeing the trailer which was exhilarating, I was quite disappointed to find myself bored during the film- and it stars Denzel Washington!! How?

The cover of the DVD features the two man show that this film is: Chris Pine and Denzel Washington. It's quite an exciting cover- the colour scheme works well for it and really brings out Chris Pine's eyes. Whilst it doesn't do much for Denzel Washington's appearance, he's already well known in this genre of film.

1,000,000 tons, 100,000 lives, 100 minutes is the punchline to the movie. A freight train carrying (I assume) 1,000,000 tons of cargo, 8 trains containing highly toxic and flammable chemicals (molten phenol), is unmanned, without air brakes and hurtling towards highly populated areas in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, Veteran train driver Frank (Denzel Washington) is working with train conductor Will (Chris Pine) on his first day. Despite a rough start, they must trust each other in stopping the freight train and preventing it from causing a catastrophe after the government and train bosses' decisions to derail it fail.

The start was somewhat slow, though it does introduce the characters and give us a bit more background. It was really strange to me that as the freight train starts to hurtle out of control, the Frank/Will scenes were really boring and as it truncated the exciting train runaway, that annoyed me.

I was also somewhat confused as to what was going on with the pair. For a long time, the two story arcs didn't connect, but once they do, you finally realise what is going on and what they are trying to do, which took too long. 

I also felt that the film was a bit dragged out. Great, we know you are trying to stop the train, but does it really take 10-20 minutes just to catch up with the train? This I was not here for. I know it's trying to be realistic but I was simply bored during this time. The constant reports for speed/distance is supposed to thrill and make it more exciting, but I was just waiting for them to just get to the action!! 

And it feels like A LOT of the film was relaying speed/distance and really not much more in the script! I also thought the 'personal' trash talk between Frank and Will during a highly dangerous freight train chase, unbelievable and a bust for the excitement. They seem way too calm and in that way calmed us down after building it up.

That said, there were a few scenes that were exciting and were 'edge of seat' moments. Not many, but a few. And what I did like was the humorous one liners that were interspersed into the movie. It's not a Denzel Washington film without some sarcastic lines from him. In this way, this film keeps his style consistent and appealing to Washington fans.

The final action sequence was also somewhat exciting. However, the solution (I won't spoil and say what that is) seems a bit 'easy' and realistically, they could've just done that at the very beginning. Also, all this action just for a railway accident reduces the tension. I mean, I thought it was some evil villain's ploy to blow up the train. Had there been some antagonist (not just the train company bosses), the film would've been far more exciting in my opinion.

Denzel Washington- Frank
Chris Pine- Will
Rosario Dawson- Connie

Denzel Washington is fine as the character he always plays- the 'herioc' character with sarcasm to the side. I thought Chris Pine was just there; any actor could've played his role. This film was almost certain to boost his ratings/popularity and get him more screen time. The introductory nudity/underwear scene which was completely unnecessary was evidently there to get him more fans and raise his sex appeal. I did think that Rosario Dawson stood out at times during the movie, not always, but one or two scenes you really do cheer her on.

'Unstoppable' claims to be an exhilarating ride of a movie, and many seem to agree, but for me, the lack of an antagonist, the unbelievability of it all, the constant relaying of speed/distance opposed to any sort of action truly bored me. There are a few action scenes, one explosion and appropriately interspersed 'Washington' sarcasm, but that isn't enough to make this film shine out. 
I'm sure many will like this, and you can make your own mind up about it, but of all the films of this type that exist, I was not impressed by 'Unstoppable'. Instead, I recommend seeking out 'Speed' a pure classic, or 'Source Code', an explosive psychological roller coaster of a film.

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