Oscar®Oscar® Nominee for Best Sound Editing
Movie Review

Unstoppable

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Action Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
November 6, 2010 (sneak preview)
November 12, 2010 (wide—3,100+ theaters)
DVD: February 15, 2011
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

Featuring: Denzel Washington (Frank), Chris Pine (Will), Rosario Dawson (Connie), Ethan Suplee (Dewey), Kevin Dunn (Galvin), Kevin Corrigan (Inspector Werner), more »
Director: Tony Scott—“Man on Fire,” “Deja Vu,” “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” “Top Gun”
Producer: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Prospect Park, Scott Free Productions, Firm Films, more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

“1,000,000 tons. 100,000 lives. 100 minutes.”

Based on a real life runaway train incident in Toledo, Ohio, on May 15, 2001, “Unstoppable” is a thrilling movie full of high-powered action and nail-biting suspense. On that fateful day in May, a 47-car CSX locomotive left a Toledo, Ohio rail yard without an engineer and wasn’t stopped until it had run 66 miles through three counties. For the film, the area has been changed to Pennsylvania, names have been changed, but the story remains full of drama and real life portrayals.

Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) is a 28 year veteran of the railroad industry and widowed father to two teenaged daughters. On a work day that starts out just like any other, Frank finds himself teamed with a new trainee named Will Colson (Chris Pine) who has his own life issues. The relationship starts out strained, as both men attempt to find their ground with one another, but soon a much bigger issue starts to loom over their lives.

Frank and Will’s train is on the same main track as an unmanned runaway train which is headed toward the highly populated area of Stanton. The escaped train, effectively the length of a skyscraper, is traveling at brake neck speeds, has no air brakes, and is carrying multiple freight cars full of hazardous chemicals, which are destined to explode, if derailed. After two failed attempts from corporate are made to stop the speeding train, and the loss of his best friend who tries to stop the death “missile” during those attempts, Frank takes matters into his own hands.

With support from yard master Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson), the woman at the monitors and controls of all the trains in their part of the state, Frank and Will decide it’s up to them to stop the warp speed train using their own ingenuity, by latching onto it from behind—a risky and death-defying concept on it’s own.

Action-packed from start to finish, we are involved in every gritty three dimensional way, as we ride along with Frank and Will racing the clock, as they chase down that 1 million tons of seemingly unstoppable steel. Every moment of this film is spent on compelling drama and thrilling energy, as the characters vehemently risk their lives to save 100,000 other’s—their loved ones watching in horror while the media plasters the rescue mission on national television.

“Unstoppable” is rated PG-13, for sequences of action and peril, and some language; I believe it to be correct and caution parents to be prepared to making their families subject to high powered and very realistic scenes of death, near death, blood, injury and intense perils. There is a scene where a character gets his foot clamped between two rail cars. There is, also, a scene where a character is thrown into the glass windshield of a speeding train. There are several scenes where cars are crashed and blown up, and one scene where a speeding locomotive is blown up in a ball of fire and a character is killed in the process. This film is dedicated from the first scenes to the finish to getting the viewer involved on a very vivid and extremely realistic level, as if you are riding the rails right along with its characters. If parents feel their 13 year olds, and especially younger children, cannot take this type of experience, be advised.

As the profession in the railroad industry is portrayed in “Unstoppable,” one must consider it is unique and the people of a certain caliber, not unlike that of police officer or fireman. The characters in this story are like family and live by a special code. and the language used at times is brash. I counted the words a** (7), hell (24), sh*t (11), d*mn or d*m it (2), son-of-a-bi**h (11), the f-word once, along with the finger being used several times. Other objectionable language is ball buster, p*ssy (as in being a coward), j*ck off, numb nuts, and other such explicatives. The Lord’s name is taken in vain three times, as well.

On the other hand, this film is an excellent portrait of human beings who are willing to sacrifice their lives to save other lives on a grand scale. It shows bravery, unselfishness and great love on the part of the main characters, as well as others on the sidelines. It is a wonderful example of forgiveness and pure valor. And I am happy to note the end is a happy one, although some may feel it contrived, we must keep in mind this script was based on a real life event, and that, in itself, proves that we do have positive outcomes in the face of insurmountable odds in our very real world. It underscores the fortitude and resolution of the human spirit.

For anyone who enjoyed movies like “Speed,” this film is for you. I enjoyed it and found it well worth the price of admission. Fasten your seat belts!

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This is a really exciting movie. Informative, well done, and memorable.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Halyna, age 64 (USA)
Positive—“Unstoppable” is all about having the courage and fortitude to do what needs to be done to save innocent people—even if it means risking one’s own life. The drama is very intense, and the language is raw, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from people in extremely stressful life-and-death situations. In addition to the problem of the runaway train, both of the main characters have family issues that need attention. All in all, I think this movie will bring up important points for parents and their mature youth to discuss. Leave the young ones at home, “Unstoppable” is not for them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Leslie, age 57 (USA)
Positive—Funny how the title of this movie is “Unstoppable,” because that was how much control over my breathing while watching this suspenseful movie—unstoppable. What I can say about this film? It was incredible. I had seen the trailer for this movie and figured I would go see it because there was a grand-reopening of our local theater. Part of me wanted to see HP7 because I had seen the other 6 films, but due to my views against witchcraft and wizardry, I decided against this. I was glad I made the right decision, otherwise I would have missed one of Denzel Washington’s best films he has done this year.

Chris Pine, also, put in an unbelievable performance. The cinematography in this movie was unbelievable! Sometimes in these kinds of films the camera work can be shaky, not in this film. The acting was top-notch, even from the cameo appearances. The music fit the movie perfectly which doesn’t always happen. However, this is not a movie for children due to language was pretty prevalent throughout the film. Overall, this was a well done film and look forward to seeing what Denzel Washington will appear in in 2011!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Alexander Malsan, age 20 (USA)
Positive—A great movie for anyone interested in the rail industry or just loves trains. I grew up around freight trains, and there is an excitement around the operation and lore of these powerful “beasts. The theatre was literally rumbling with the sound effects of “1206” and “777,” the diesel locomotives in this film. It’s a simple, yet important, plot of risking your life to save others. It also illustrates how, with the rail yard scene mistake in the beginning, taking a short cut can be more treacherous than the long way and sometimes lead to disaster. This film would easily help to inspire conversation about what Christ has done—giving His life to save others. Go and see this!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jeff, age 40 (USA)
Positive—I’m not necessarily a big action movie fan but this was a great, edge-of-one’s-seat flick. It was a cinematic, 90 min. roller coaster ride minus the nausea. Two railroad workers, Frank (Denzel Washington) and Will (Chris Pine) take it upon themselves to catch an unmanned, runaway train (carrying gallons of toxic chemicals) from careening off course and crashing into something and potentially wiping out a town or two.

While I objected to the profanity in the film (like any other Christian would), I came to the realization that life is precious and that getting right with God is important should something like this happen in life. Thankfully, I am saved, thus knowing that if I am dealt a bad hand in life, I will know that my eternity will be spent with my Creator. I felt this movie was a reminder that although I’m alive today, tomorrow is not promised to me.

Those who are fans of the actors and like action films, this is a great movie to see. It’s not Oscar material by any means, but it is not a waste of 90 minutes. As always, Denzel Washington never ceases to amaze me. He did a great job in “The Book of Eli.” It seems as if every movie role he has, he makes the character believable and human. After seeing Chris Pine in “Star Trek,” I was impressed with his performance as well. Both roles have him acting reckless (or something to that effect) that eventually pays off in the long run.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Shannon H., age 29 (USA)
Positive—“Unstoppable” is a different kind of action movie. Although it is a fun and fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat, bite-your-nails thriller, there are no guns blazing. No secret agents or femme fatales. No monsters, walking dead, or vampires. Just a runaway train and two guys who love their families and are risking their lives in order to save them and a town called Stanton. And that’s what made this movie enjoyable. The only two drawbacks are the large amounts of swearing and the Hooter’s scenes. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine were both good and believable, and it was also interesting to see what train engineers and conductors do. Definitely worth the theater or DVD price.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sarah C., age 20 (USA)
Positive—You know, it really takes that veteran actor like Denzel Washington to pull this movie off. Without him, or a seasoned actor like him, this movie would fall flat as a pancake, if it had to rest on Chris Pine’s shoulders. He’s too new, too young to carry this kinda title all on his lonesome self. Kinda like in the story… young, new conductor paired opposite old, grouchy engineer of 20+ continuous years of service. Funny actually, come to think of it.

Anyhow, the gravity of the film’s events the director tried to fake his way through with quick cutaways and breakneck editing really woulda damaged the film had Denzel not been in it. You need that venerable actor to convince you, “Hey, I’m on a half-mile long train at 70mph—I may as well be riding a Super Mario Bros. Mega Bullet on course with a common fly.” And that’s just it. Denzel does make you believe, however little room is left to do so with all of the (I’m sure) physics-bending that’s going on in Unstoppable. He’s got that stare, ya know? If you think about it, a lotta of the shots of the conductor and the engineer inside their 1206 train (or whatever it was) were probably done on a stage or even just a stationary train somewhere.

But with Denzel’s acting prowess, man when he stares out the window with only the vaguest trace of hope in his beady eyes, you really think all Hell’s broken loose. Lo, the power of acting.

That’s not to say Unstoppable is mediocre or worse yet, bad. Far from it actually. If anything, it’s refreshing to have not just one, BUT TWO main characters who not only go after the lion and strike it down for stealing a lamb, but they do so with integrity.

There are SOOOOO many films that I’ve seen lately that have really let me down.

It’s a growing trend these days whereby Hollywood is creating a new breed of leading male archetypes: old, well past their prime, and still royally screwing things up. In their lives, in their jobs, in their God-given duties and responsibilities as men, husbands, fathers, and leaders in their communities. Now obviously this film doesn’t delve too deep into these areas, but it doesn’t have to because it doesn’t have the what is now commonplace talk about the men messing it up on the homefront. Know what I mean Vern? These guys were selfless in their actions to save a city, sure, but they were also holding it together in their homes, the dominions they were given stewardship of. To the best of their abilities anyhow, given their mitigating circumstances.

It’s sad, but these sorta admirable traits—the ones that are truly worth emulating—are fast disappearing in today’s cinema.

I counted no less than 6 gd’s, which in a film like this is unfortunate, as it is with any film, so it’s worth cautioning. I’d say that’s the biggest grief as far content goes.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mega Tron, age 24 (USA)
Positive—Fantastic movie. A great story that is well told; I didn’t want to miss a minute of it. Acting is superb. The way it was filmed you felt that you were in the environment of the story. I recommend this one for adults. Might not be so interesting for under 9 years old.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Joe, age 62 (USA)
Positive—This movie kept me completely glued to the edge of my seat! The acting was all good, and the effects were awesome. Although it seemed to me that the amount of profanity marred the quality of the movie a little bit, I still very much enjoyed it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kadie Joseph, age 18 (USA)
Positive—This is an excellent movie, that I highly recommend. It does have some foul language and a small amount of bloodshed. I wouldn’t call it violence though. I am not sure why the reviewer listed sex/nudity as moderate. The only thing in the movie is a scene in hooters and nothing is even seen. This movie will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jessica, age 27 (USA)
Positive—This altruistic byopic shows the qualities we all hope are found in those who are entrusted with public safety. There is one scenario that was not explored: water! Traffic attenuators use water to stop vehicles on impact with a minimum of injury, and this could have been suggested by the state police who are familiar with use of attenuators. One likely scenario is to call upon the fire department to erect ad hoc reservoirs (they look like big swimming pools) across the tracks so that the train would encounter the resistance of thousands of gallons of water, effectively slowing its speed or stopping it with enough time for someone to climb into the cab—all without derailment! Of note is the parsimonious attitude of senior management whose only concern seemed to be the financial damage to their organization—yet it was the men of courage and resolve who saved the day.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—C Barton, age 51 (USA)
Neutral

none

Negative
Negative—I was so disappointed to see all of these Positive ratings, and no Negative ratings at all. There was a lot of bad language in this movie. I should have known better, but I figured since so many people gave it a Positive rating, it must not be so bad. I was wrong… I regret renting it. Don’t even try to justify it based on all the other good qualities.

Imagine I baked you some delicious chocolate chip cookies, but I also mixed in a little bit of dog poo. Just enough so that you couldn’t taste it, but you know it is in there because I told you so. Would you still eat the cookies, let alone enjoy them? Of course not. This movie is the same… a really good movie that was completely spoiled by some bad language which was completely unnecessary.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tim, age 36 (USA)
Negative—I can handle bad language in a film. We know ungodly people are in the world, and this is how they talk. We also know that ungodly people are making these movies, for the most part, and they don’t know any other words to use anymore. But here’s what killed the movie for me. I am really sick of what passes for cinematography in action movies these days. The director of “Unstoppable” seems to never know where his camera is supposed to be. Practically every scene—even the calm ones—includes at least one shot where the camera zooms in or out quickly, or changes focus quickly, and there’s apparently no reason for it, other than to inject some tension that we otherwise wouldn’t feel.

Compare this movie to a real thriller like “Speed” or “Die Hard” (both shot by the inimitable Jan de Bont). Now there’s a filmmaker who knows how to use a camera. I had to stop watching “Unstoppable” after 15 minutes. My eyes just couldn’t take the strain anymore. I didn’t know where to look, because the director was always forcing me in a new direction. Honestly, it took me out of the story every time. From the plot summaries I’ve read, the story isn’t very good, either. I hope I’ve helped someone avoid watching this garbage.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Carrie Rostollan, age 42 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—Starts off slowly, but the shots of the trains in the rail yard in the opening sequence already start to get the tension up. Cinematography is superb, it not only lets you feel more part of it, but also shows how dangerous these everyday objects are. The acting is superb most of the time, and effects and camera angles are stunning during the train sequences (I’m actually drawing a picture of a dragon chasing a train, I went through some scenes frame-by-frame to help with my final sketch. I numbered my train 777. Ironically, when watching the movie 2 days later I discovered its train was numbered 777, too.) All the sequences mount up to that climatic sequence over the elevated curve.

However, I have one major niggle: please put a “making of” on the DVDs in future, I dearly want to see how it was done.

It is also quite violent, quite rude and has some death references, many children may not like it. Parents of autistic children, be warned, too. Although I greatly enjoyed it, others may not, due to the above notes. Great movie all around though, train lovers and thrill seekers should be in for an unstoppable ride here.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Anastasia Davies, age 14 (Australia)