Unstoppable, Blu-ray + Digital Copy (2011)

by | Feb 24, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Unstoppable, Blu-ray + Digital Copy (2011)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine
Director: Tony Scott
Studio: 20th Century Fox [2/15/11]
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced 1080p HD color
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish/French/Portuguese DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Traditional Chinese
Extras: Audio commentary by Director Tony Scott, “The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable” featurette, “Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene,” “Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work,” “On the Rails” with Director & Cast, Tracking the Story Unstoppable, Script development, BD-Live: Behind the Scenes, Live Lookup; Digital copy disc
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: *****

Who would imagine that such a gripping, suspenseful movie could be made about a runaway train? It reminded me of the unexpected success of The King’s Speech making a whole Oscar-level film around a person’s speed impediment. Director Scott previously did The Taking of Pelham 123, so he seems to be literally acting out Orson Welles’ observation that movie directing was like playing with the greatest model train set in the world.

The unlikely couple of Washington – who has been recently told he’s being reduced to half-pay due to his age – and young fledgling conductor Pine – with serious problems in his marriage – are first established as having considerable differences and bad feelings partly due to Pine’s inexperience. Meanwhile an idiot engineer in a Pennsylvania rail yard has gotten out of his cab (against the rules) to throw a switch manually, and in the process “lost” his train. He also neglected to faster the air hoses for the brakes before starting out. Eventually Washington and Pine are on the same mainline track with their train as the runaway train – going 70 mph – is bearing down on them. They can’t get their entire train on a siding for safety because Pine added five cars to it that he shouldn’t have. So there is mayhem when the roaring train passes them on the siding.

The story is whipped up to higher tensions and excitement as it continues. A new element are the lame-brained solutions tried by the railway’s management, which Washington says are not going to work, and they don’t. Both of their jobs also hang in the balance, along with that of their helpful operations-room dispatcher.  Did I mention some of the cars on the train are filled with deadly toxic and inflammable chemicals?  Of course, you probably expected that. The railroad managers evacuate two towns and try unsuccessfully to derail the train as it passes thru them. But Washington and Pine save the day and become heroes, as expected.

We get to see lots of Fox News clips covering the story, which is loosely based on a true event. In fact, Fox seems to know a number of important facts that even the railway management don’t know; that’s a nice slap on their back. In spite of the obvious studio connection, some of us may have preferred to see a generic news network rather than Fox.  The Blu-ray transfer looks great and the rumbling sounds of the various trains in surround (you’ll be glad you invested in a subwoofer) get you involved from the very opening credit titles. I didn’t have time to do the several extras, but the one on the rather unusual stunts looks most interesting.

 — John Sunier

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