By JoAnna LeFlore – Assistant News Editor
Anyone who has seen a movie starring Denzel Washington knows his proven ability to engage his audience and steal their hearts, no matter what character he plays.
However, it could catch someone off guard to see that the Oscar award-winner plays a more humble role as Frank Barnes in “Unstoppable” in order to let a new guy get some rave.
Supporting actor Chris Pine plays Will Colson in this thriller based on the true story of the pursuit of an unmanned train with no air brakes, cruising an Ohio track at 70 miles per hour. Washington and Pine recreate this dramatic moment near Stanton, Penn., but the move to becoming silver screen heroes is a slow build. Halfway through the movie, the tension-filled team finally encounters the train as the camera cuts back and forth to scenes of police and helicopters chasing the train.
Although director Tony Scott seemed to aim for a thriller, the movie is filled with humorous suspense that keeps the audience’s attention. Besides the clever music choices between country and hip-hop, Scott manages to strike laughs at such tense moments throughout the film. Additionally, Scott seems to give humorous freedom to the main characters.
As executive powers debate the safety of the city’s residents and the possible loss of company stock, the CEO of the train company threatens to fire Washington’s character as he and Pine volunteer to chase the running train in reverse. Washington replies that he was already fired two months earlier and Pine then snatches the radio dispatcher to proclaim that they are going to “run this bitch down.”
Funny scenes include an attempt to stop the train with state troopers shooting at the train that is filled with tanks of hazardous chemicals. The chief of the troopers realizes the deadly mission almost too late and later tells news reporters about the careless attempt to stop the train. It is all too evident that a few bullets will not stop a potentially explosive missile.
Moving vehicles are used repeatedly in risky stunts, including police cars flipping over tracks, a flying helicopter with a marine hanging above the train and the speeding train cars careening toward a farm trailer at a railroad crossing. The wardrobe is less of a concern and distraction as the majority of film budget was spent on the entertaining stunts.
Washington has no lead in attempting any of these stunts as much as Pine does while trying to attach a train car to the speeding train going in the opposite direction. He takes a wild stretch between two cars and crushes his foot while trying to avoid being smashed under the train. Pine is once again the hero in the film as Washington played the fearless coach behind him.
The film falls short on other actors such as Barnes’ two daughters, who do a fine job looking cute but lack emotional depth as their father puts his life on the line for the city.
Despite the film’s shortcomings with acting extras, the movie makes up for it by showing the main characters not as supermen, but as everyday, average men with problems.
The audience can’t help but show respect for the brave efforts of two men who represent the working class.