Unstoppable speeds past typical character development

To describe Unstoppable on paper is to be underwhelmed by the plot: A train pulling a load of dangerous chemicals gets out of control, with only two lone men having the courage to try to stop it. It is the manner in which the plot is executed that matters.
Denzel Washington and Chris Pine star as a typical pair, one an old pro and another a new hire by the railroad.
Pine, who starred as Captain Kirk in the recent Star Trek reboot, does a fine job holding his own with Washington. Sticking to his wheelhouse role, Washington once again plays the expert do-gooder.
The real star of this movie is the train, spewing smoke and plowing through any number of obstacles as it gains speed. There is something refreshing about seeing a film in which a real machine plays such a central part, with explosions and destruction instead of computer generated effects. If nothing else, this film is grounded in reality.
This is why, in spite of the clichéd elements, Unstoppable manages to entertain. One knows every plot point, but the execution of the action makes even the most predictable elements entertaining.
When the movie stays centered on the tension of the train’s approach to a deadly curve, the film excels. There are a few attempts at deepening the conflict between the characters, but these elements are picked up and discarded as needed in the story.
The act that sets the plot in motion is alarming in its everyday nature. Every act of cutting corners, whether to save time or money for the company, results in further disaster. It is only the actions of two men who place the safety of others over a bottom line that results in success.
This is why it is disappointing to see elements that are clearly added to make the action more exciting. The near climactic sequence where the train approaches a deadly curve nearly derailed by obvious CG enhancement.
At any rate, this is a perfectly entertaining movie for the whole family, so if you are forced into the cinema over Thanksgiving break, this will probably be your best bet.


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