By Maggie Pehanick, Entertainment Editor
Like many made-for-television movies, the main shtick of new action flick “Unstoppable” is that it’s inspired by true events. Also like many made-for-television flicks, Denzel Washington’s new vehicle is just slightly lacking when it comes to plot and substance.
This time, Washington brings his jovial-meets-intense energy to the screen as Frank Barnes, a 28-year veteran of the Pennsylvania railway system. Frank is experienced and unwavering about his convictions regarding his job. On this particular day, he is teamed with trainee Will Colburn, played by last year’s “Star Trek” wunderkind Chris Pine. Inevitably, the two butt heads when Will makes it abundantly clear he is not excited about the prospect of life on the tracks.
The unlikely pair is each battling with their own over-dramatized family issues. Frank is struggling to connect with his two college-age daughters and Will is not currently on speaking terms with his wife (which doesn’t stop him from stalking her before heading to work in the morning).
While Frank and Will clash and bond while maintaining the tracks in Southern Pennsylvania, a clumsy engineer loses control of train 777 — a train the size of the Chrysler Building. Unmanned and with the throttle in position, “Triple-7” is gaining speed by the minute. Dramatic twist alert: The train is currently carrying 30,000 pounds of toxic chemicals capable of devastating an entire metropolitan area. With the shipping company’s CEO blinded by his corporation’s depreciating stock value, the only people capable of stopping the train are Frank and Will.
“Unstoppable” picks up speed in the last half, as the operators-turned-heroes must slow the train to a reasonable pace in order for it to handle the “S-curve” tracks in Stanton, Penn. As an added incentive, Stanton is Will’s hometown and his estranged wife and son reside there.
The film isn’t bad; there simply isn’t enough material in the original story to support an entire motion picture. The plot devices orchestrated by Director Tony Scott (“Man on Fire”) — explosions, unlikely twists and an aging-but-agile Washington hopping on top of cars — are too outrageous to be taken seriously. Despite the big names headlining “Unstoppable,” the most enjoyable roles in the film are played by the supporting actors.
Directed by: Tony Scott
Release Date: Nov. 12
Verdict: Rent the DVD