Netflix Pick of the Week: Unstoppable

For those of you unable to go to the movies this weekend, I’m making a suggestion. Rent Unstoppable. I know, I know … it looked a little too much like Denzel trying to do another feel good movie like Remember the Titans. And also like Remember the Titans, we can pretty much guess how it ends. But it’s a hell of a ride getting there.

Background – Tony Scott is still searching for his magic touch from the 80s (Beverly Hills Cop II, Top Gun) or even his breakouts from the 90s (Crimson Tide) — but it’s a hell of a lot better than the last ten years of stuff he’s been putting out (Deja Vu, Man on Fire). Denzel is once again his muse, and Chris Pine is looking like less Captain Kirk and probably more like Captain down on his luck. Those two are all that stands in between a ginormous train carrying hazardous chemicals to Marcus’ hood and a happy ending (not that type of happy ending … not that type of movie). That’s all I expected when I picked it up. It delivered a lot more.

The plot doesn’t get much richer, sadly, but Denzel and Pine’s characters are developed about as well as you could go. I was a little annoyed at the archetypical train workers, and folks taking pot shots at union workers (because all of you guys in non-union shops have NO ONE that’s lazy, right?) – but get past the rushed setup and you start to care about a few of the growing cast of characters. Just a few.

Tony Scott’s a great action director. I wasn’t quite sure how you can make a train running 70 mph exciting for two hours (I’m imagining baby Stewie saying, “It’s still out of control … it’s still out of control … it’s still out of control … it’s still out of control … it’s still out of control … ” as Lois stares ahead without blinking) — but I didn’t know how he could make a submarine movie interesting, and he did. The usual tricks are on full display – panoramic areal shots, quick shots from multiple angles of the same person moving two feet, and the biggest action scenes greeted with little sound other than the soundtrack. But you know what … it’s fun getting there.

It’s fun to know that this is based on a true story. Don’t yell “that didn’t really happen” at the screen, just wonder what you would have done if an out-of-control train full of chemicals was headed your way and you didn’t know what was going on. Enjoy the different ways they tried to stop it; appreciate the police/fire/rescue workers that were worried about their own families but trying to save everyone else’s; be sad for the families of people that actually died. And, if you actually don’t know how it ended in real life … Netflix is only a few clicks away.

Be sure to rent the Unstoppable with Denzel Washington, not Wesley Snipes. We don’t all look alike. And please tell me how Ethan Supplee keeps showing up in Denzel Washington movies, or why Rosario Dawson is so hot but didn’t get any mention in my review. *sigh* Enjoy the weekend. Somebody go out and see Super 8 and write it up without spoilers.