Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
You don’t want to Google the “inspired by real events” story behind Unstoppable, a runaway train thriller starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson that has momentum to spare.
The plot can be described in short whistle blasts — Must! Stop! Train! — so you don’t want to risk ruining the superb suspense by finding out what actually happened in the spring of 2001.
That’s when an unmanned freight train later known as “Crazy Eights” (because of its 8888 numerical designation) left a Toledo rail yard and barrelled 106 kilometres south, pulling thousands of gallons of highly toxic molten phenol acid. Derailment=catastrophe.
Unstoppable gooses the story — the speed and distance travelled are greater, the risks more terrifying, the heroism more heroic — but the script by Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard) sticks to the blunt facts. Director Tony Scott shoots much of the film as a series of television news reports, which makes it feel at times that we’re watching live TV.
There’s no moustache-twirling villain in Unstoppable, but there are a series of jackasses and weasels who allow a single mistake to escalate into rolling Armageddon.
Scott puts innocent schoolchildren, frightened horses and brave railway men in jeopardy all down the line, but the sadism is forgivable. You can’t stop runaway adrenaline.