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MOVIE REVIEW: Unstoppable

Denzel Washington vehicle generally stays on track

(L-R) Chris Pine as Will and Denzel Washington as Frank in "Unstoppable."

(L-R) Chris Pine as Will and Denzel Washington as Frank in "Unstoppable."

  • (L-R) Chris Pine as Will and Denzel Washington as Frank in "Unstoppable."
  • Chris Pine as Will in "Unstoppable."
  • Denzel Washington as Frank in "Unstoppable."
  • Chris Pine as Will in "Unstoppable."
  • Chris Pine as Will in "Unstoppable."
  • Chris Pine as Will in "Unstoppable."
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Unstoppable is untoppable!

(I just wrote that in the hopes of ending up on the DVD box.)

Well, according to the critics, it is. They’re really being kind to this movie.

After seeing the trailers, I had no desire to see it. I finally decided the reviews were too good, and I reluctantly have to admit – it wasn’t half-bad.

In the credits it says this was “inspired by true events.” I bet onlyfive percentof this is based on true events. I mean, the fat guy named Dewey, who caused the runaway freight train to barrel down the tracks – we are told at the end of the movie “is now in the fast-food industry.” Yeah.

The movie starts off with Chris Pine as the father “pining” for his family back. And he does what all great fathers in movies do when the wife kicks them out – he wakes up early to sit in his truck and watch the kid walk to school. Awwwwww.

It’s so weird when movies want to establish a character for us, and they do something ridiculous. I remember Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds, being an hour late arriving home, where his ex-wife and kid are waiting. This as he skids his brand new Mustang down the street. Okay, he’s a jerk; but do we need to be force fed these dumb movie clichés? I don’t care how great a father you are, you don’t set your alarm for 6 a.m. so you can get up and watch your kid walk to school.

Really though, this isn’t a movie you want to pick apart. With these action pictures, you have to just go with it. They aren’t trying to be realistic. They just want to blow shit up and crash trains. And they do that with reckless abandon. And a lot of that is fun, I must admit.

It’s weird that director Tony Scott did Crimson Tide.

This movie also dealt with a rookie who doesn’t get along with the crusty, old veteran who does things “his way.” Only this time, Denzel Washington is the old vet on his way out.

In the first 10 minutes, at least eight different characters made calls on their cell phones. A perfect excuse for the audience to all shut off their cells (although I suppose nothing will ever keep them from texting during movies, huh?)

Some of the side characters got annoying. A welder that looked like Doobie Brother Jeff Skunk Baxter (even with the yellow sunglasses) – he wants to tell everyone he meets about trains and precision.

There’s the head boss, who wants to do whatever it takes to save money during the derailment of the runaway train. He even asks while on speaker phone, “How will this affect our stocks?”

Again, we can’t pick apart these things or you’ll really dislike the movie. It’s about going off the rails on a crazy train (thank you, Mr. Osbourne).

Every time the beautiful Rosario Dawson is called “Hooper” I thought – had this movie been made in 1978, Burt Reynolds (the original “Hooper”) would’ve surely starred in it.

One fun thing to do in popcorn movies like this is to make jokes with your friends. You do a little Mystery Science Theatre thing.

When Washington was running on top of the train, with gloves and a ski cap on – I said he looked like O.J. Simpson running through the airport in those Hertz commercials. My friend topped me by saying “Or O.J. running from the crime scene in Brentwood.”

When Washington’s daughters are shown working at Hooter’s, my friend said, “This is unrealistic. They have small breasts.”

Character actor Kevin Corrigan, who I really like, seems to be wasted as some sort of safety official that just happened to be in checking on Hooper when all this goes down. It was a nice touch having him act helpful during all this, instead of barking orders at everyone and telling them something silly like, “When this is all over, you won’t even be allowed to play with electric trains!!”

As much as I was on the edge of my seat during all these great stunts and special effects, it was when they were talking about the weight of a train carrying 29 cars, going 60 MPH, towards another train going 50 … I started sweating as I had flashbacks to the SAT tests.

I may be getting old, but…there were many times during the movie that I thought – this thing is loud. Whether that was metal screeching or the guitar in the score…I just wondered when they’d turn the volume down.

If you’re into action pictures, you won’t be disappointed by this. If you aren’t, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this.

I’m giving it a C-.