Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Mark Bomback
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: February 15, 2011
When I think of movies "based on true stories" or "actual events", I'm reminded of examples like The Strangers and Texas Chainsaw Massacre where a little research of the "true life events" resulted in more than slight disappointment. However, the structural basis of Unstoppable is actually fairly solid. Among some of the minor details, the location is different, and many of the extreme events are obvious dramatizations, but for the most part, the substance of the story is based on facts.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5492&w=o[/img]Will Colson (Chris Pine) is the nephew of the president of Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad (AWVR). With only four months of training, combined with the fact that today is his first day on the job as a conductor, he is instantly hated by the veteran engineers. Nevertheless, he is paired with 28-year vet, Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) assigned to pick up some train cars in Stanton, PA and deliver them up the main line to Fuller, PA. Frank is a highly experienced and skilled worker, but later we find he's being forced into early retirement with reduced benefits. He immediately puts Will on a short leash warning him of his one rule: "If you're going to do something, do it right. If you don't know how to do something, ask me."
Meanwhile, in Fuller, rail yard hostlers Dewey (Ethan Suplee) and Gilleece (T.J. Miller) are ordered to remove a freight train from it's current track to make way for a train full of children on a field trip (ironically to learn about railroad safety). As you may be able to imagine, a number of things must all simultaneously go wrong to send a train "the size of the Chrysler Building" barreling full-speed down its track unmanned and without brakes. Well, you guessed it; after a chain of protocol errors, Dewey leaves the moving locomotive to properly align an upcoming switch to the correct track, but is unable to reboard as the train picks up speed. With the air breaks disconnected, train 777 is carrying thousands of gallons of fuel, pulling 8 cars containing 30,000 gallons of hazardous molten pehnol and is aggressively accelerating without a conventional method of being stopped. Dare I say....Unstoppable??
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5492&w=o[/img]Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) is the rail yard master back at mission control in Fuller, and she eventually gets wind of the situation. In full-on crisis mode, Connie orders all trains on the main line into sidings, narrowly avoiding a catastrophic collision between train 777 and the children's field trip train. When Frank and Will get their orders to move into the nearest siding, Frank decides they will be unable to fit due to extra cars Will connected by mistake. Frank suggests that they speed up to try to make it into an upcoming RIP track. Again, a head-on collision is narrowly avoided as Frank and Will coast into the RIP track just as train 777 clips their last car. But, as the train passes, Frank looks back to notice the coupling of the rear car of 777 is left open. He disconnects the locomotive from its load, and proceeds to chase after 777 in reverse. Frank tries to convince Connie with a theory that if they can catch 777 and couple to its rear, they may be able to slow the train enough to avoid a disastrous situation.
However, Connie, Frank and Will are at odds with railroad president Oscar Galvin (Kevin Dunn), who desperately wants to avoid as much monetary disaster as possible. Amidst threats of being fired, attempts to derail train 777, hawking media helicopters and police pursuit, will Frank and Will be able to come together despite their conflicting personalities so that they can avoid an imminent tragedy in the heavily populated city of Stanton?
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=5492&w=o[/img]Unstoppable gets off to a slow start, but much like train 777, speeds up quickly to become an ever-exciting thrill ride. Director, Tony Scott does a great job making what could be a simple and possibly uneventful story much more interesting by portraying it from multiple perspectives. Unfortunately, in my opinion, both Will's and Frank's side stories seem completely useless and unnecessary and therefore I didn't feel a need to mention them in the synopsis. Trying not to give away too much of the ending, I should mention that after an intense rise to the story's crescendo there seems to be almost a dissatisfying emotional crash. Nonetheless, I don't think Unstoppable is intended to be a think piece, so as an action first thriller that's truly based on similar true-life events, this movie definitely shouldn't disappoint.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language.
Unstoppable is encoded with an exceptionally beautiful 1080p MPEG 4 AVC codec at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Highly, almost to the point of overly saturated, bright colors seem to scream off your screen. Everything from the fire engine red train 777, to the bright blue and red railroad map at mission control, to Will's highlight-yellow rookie vest, this movie from start to finish is intensely colorful. Contrast is exceptional with near-perfect blacks that don't crush and super bright whites that don't blow out. There's no noticible posterization, noise or oversharpening. Film grain is propitious throughout, and sharp textures are well represented from closeups of Chris Pine's facial stubble through rain drop-covered, reflective windows to the highly detailed, rusted, painted, metal walls of the various train cars. Armed with nonstop action, I noticed no softness during fast-paced sequences. Borderline reference quality, some of the action sequences in this video transfer are definitely worthy of an occasional demo.
Unstoppable features an uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 surround track that will most definitely rock your home theater. Giant trains, speeding, sirened police car chases and chopping helicopters rumble, crash and roar around the room, flawlessly from channel to channel. Explosions, collisions and thundering locomotives will constantly engage your subwoofer while breaking glass and screeching, braking metal wheels make an assault on your system's tweeters draped simultaneously over perfectly accurate dialogue. Just as impressive as the bangs and booms are the more subtle ambient sounds and surround effects. Humming rail yard machinery, the sounds of dishes being washed in a diner, the clacking sounds of distant trains, distant police sirens and the bustling of workers at mission control all contribute to a very successful, immersive quality. And, impossibly overlooked is an equally impressive musical score that electrically bounces around the room. Without a doubt, this is a reference-quality audio track that, combined with some intense action video sequences, will surely provide some impressive demo material. The louder the better!
- Audio Commentaries
- The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable
- Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene
- Hanging Off The Train: Stunt Work
- On The Rails with the Director and Cast
- Unstoppable Trailer
- Trailers for Machete and Casino Jack
- BD Live and IMDB Live
- Digital Copy
Unstoppable is a non-stop thrill ride with numerous close calls and intense action that literally feels like it should be made into a "coaster" at one of the nation's best amusement parks. Lacking slightly in plot, some interest can be drawn from the fact history proves not just that this human-error debacle could happen, but in fact, actually did happen. This blu may be a rental for some, but with a beautifully colorful video transfer and a reference-quality audio track, it will surely fall into the "must-own" category for fans of demo worthy action thrillers.