Unstoppable‘s premise is refreshingly bare: A conductorless train loaded with combustible materials must be stopped before it hits a highly populated area. It’s all speed, sound, and fury — and in that, Tony Scott is the right man for the job. During conversations or straightforward exposition, Scott’s camera bounces and jostles impatiently like an overactive child, but once the story accelerates to full throttle, his frenetic style fits well, as the cuts per minute ratchet up along with the miles per hour.
The characters are types, if ones relevant to the current economy. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine play working-class heroes thrown together to halt the renegade freight: One’s a railway veteran forced into retirement, the other’s a rookie from a family of means trading in his blue blood for a blue collar. And the only real villain, besides physics, is corporate hubris. But these recession-resonant touches zoom by as fast as the scenery; there isn’t time for much commentary in a movie so high-velocity. The exchange of substance for speed may not appeal to all, but if you’re on board you’ll find it hard to disembark. B