Unstoppable is the most entertaining movie Tony Scott has done since True Romance and the only good one since Crimson Tide. If a movie about a runaway train endangering a large chunk of small town Pennsylvania doesn’t interest you, then you already know to stay away, but if that sounds entertaining this is the movie for you.
You’ve seen the trailer so you already know the out of control train is “a missile the size of the Chrysler building” containing 8 cars of combustible and toxic material and you also know that Denzel Washington and Chris Pine are the only two men who can stop it. Assorted dangers are thrown up along the way including a train full of children, nuns and kittens; a trailer full of horses; a train full of Washington and Pine themselves and finally the entire population of Stanton, PA.
Unstoppable is over-shot and over-edited (par for the Tony Scott course), but at a fat-free 95 minutes it never wears out its welcome. It gets in, quickly ratchets up the suspense and keeps it going until the very end. In between there’s a little room for some tacked on business with Denzel and his daughters and Pine and his wife, but this is a minor and probably necessary distraction.
Though her name and face aren’t prominently featured on the poster, Unstoppable’s secret weapon turns out to be a terrific Rosario Dawson as the woman in charge of the train yard. It’s a character that could just as easily have been played by a man, in fact it’s never made an issue that she’s a woman at all, but Dawson helps soften the macho, faux blue collar horseshit that clogs pretty much every other Tony Scott movie since after The Hunger. She’s incredibly likable and rootable and she does a lot with a role that asks her to be interesting and compelling while mostly talking into a headset. The movie would still work with a man in the role, but Dawson lifts it a bit.
This is not a classic for the ages, but sometimes you want an action movie that delivers exactly what you expect and Unstoppable does that competently and efficiently. No more and no less.