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Under Review: ‘Unstoppable’

— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —

In these economic times, blue-collar workers are being neglected in more ways than one. Aside from the typical closures, senior employees are being replaced with inexperienced youngsters, who fresh out of high school, flock to their local factory for a taste of the American Dream, and that includes clocking in at six in the morning, cup of Joe in hand, revving up a dangerous piece of machinery for chump change, and . . . stopping runaway trains?

Based on a true story from an incident that took place in Ohio, Tony Scott’s latest, “Unstoppable,” pits a pair of blue-collar employees named Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington), a senior engineer, and Will Colson (Chris Pine), a greenhorn conductor, on the same track of an unmanned, out-of-control train, which happens to be transporting a combination of combustible liquids and noxious gas. Despite their yardmaster, Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson), telling them that the train is comparable to a “missile the size of the Chrysler building,” the duo musters up a plan to stop the train dead in its tracks (pun intended), before it can reach Stanton, a town of thousands.

Aside from a poor script penned by Mark Bomback (“Race to Witch Mountain,” “Deception,” “Live Free or Die Hard,” “Godsend”), which is chock full of clichés, horribly paced build-up and superfluous banter, “Unstoppable,” though sporadically entertaining, also suffers from lukewarm performances, especially from Washington, whose bland portrayal is partially due to his constant involvement in such roles over the past few years. Pine is equally uninteresting; however, Bomback doesn’t do his character any justice. In fact, the only standout performance in the entire film is that of Rosario Dawson, who remains helpless in a train control center, throughout most of “Unstoppable.”

Tony Scott’s direction has also become a bit too predictable for my tastes; he employs the same neurotic, in-your-face shots and continues to follow the idea that seeing an action sequence multiple times makes it all the more thrilling. Nevertheless, this is a system that does have its benefits and there are a couple of tense scenes, which make “Unstoppable” watchable.

Admittedly, “Unstoppable” isn’t horrible; however, a lack of spice from Scott and Washington and a poor screenplay are the reasons behind this train-wreck.

. . .

Follow Mariusz Zubrowski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ItsJustMariusz.

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