'Unstoppable' not unwatchable
Director Tony Scott continues his love affair with Denzel Washington and errant trains in "Unstoppable," the latest Scott-Washington collaboration since a strangely bearded John Travolta took "Pelham 1 2 3."
Unlike "Pelham," "Unstoppable" is a capable thriller that fits Scott's frenetic style like a work glove - durable and intentionally rough around the edges.
Scott's sensory-overload style, filled with shaky camerawork, quick pans and zooms, and staggered footage, is an ideal fit for a thriller involving a loud, barreling runaway train.
After a few expository introductions, we're in for a ride with veteran locomotive engineer Frank Barnes (Washington, "Training Day") and rookie conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine, "Star Trek").
Hauling cargo across Pennsylvania, Frank and Will learn they're on track - and a collision course - with a half-mile long, unmanned, runaway train loaded with highly combustible chemicals that could level a town six times over.
Due to a very human error, courtesy of bumbling yard worker Dewey (Ethan Suplee, TV's My Name is Earl), the runaway train, locked at 75 mph, is bound for the town of Stanton, where a hairpin curve will send it careening off track and into a haphazardly placed fuel yard.
While train yard manager Connie (Rosario Dawson, "Clerks 2") and railway VP Garvin (Kevin Dunn, "Transformers") attempt to remedy the situation from their respective offices, Frank and Will realize they're the railway's best bet at saving the day - and hundreds of thousands of lives.
Delivering convincing and dynamic performances, Washington and Pine perform admirably in what boils down to a popcorn action movie, despite the obligatory, tacked-on drama involving their troubled lives at home.
Another swell performance comes from the film's antagonist - a train - thanks to Scott's in-your-face direction. Scott manages to bring this metallic and volatile hulk to life through a frenzied combination of noise and striking visuals.
"Unstoppable" also benefits from a minimal amount of computer-generated imagery, with Scott opting for actual stunt work, models and sets - three refreshing components seldom seen anymore in modern action cinema.
While there's action aplenty, "Unstoppable" lags at times, as Frank and Will's adventure stretches on to the point of being unstoppable in its own right. But before it loses too much speed, Scott throttles ahead with a suspenseful, though surprisingly short, climax that has you rooting for our heroes all the live long day.
"Unstoppable," rated PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.