Posted: 11/24/2010



by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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I really didn’t want to see the movie Unstoppable. I just knew it was another Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3, since they both star Oscar winner Denzel Washington and the director Tony Scott has worked with Denzel before. I learned that the crew worked three months on the trains in Pennsylvania learning more about the theme upon which this movie is based. I also learned that I was wrong about my reluctance to see Unstoppable, which is based on true events that happened in or near the town of Staten, PA. The rate at which my stomach continued to tie into knots was unyielding and unstoppable!

This was a good movie. Denzel has been a railroad engineer for 28 years and is facing a forced retirement in less than three weeks. He finds himself paired with a new worker, who’s young and benefiting from nepotism. There’s resentment among the older guys, but a job is a job. On their first day out together, along with coupling mistakes that the new guy makes, as he’s pre-occupied on his cell phone, another track worker leaves a train to make a minor adjustment, but can’t jump back on in time. And all hell breaks loose, and the train isn’t a “coaster,” as officials first believe, but one running at full speed, unmanned.

Rosario Dawson is the train executive in charge of keeping things tight, and she, another top brass, Denzel and the new co-worker Chris Pine, along with a welder try to either stop Train 777, which is carrying toxic chemicals, from crashing into a populated area or figure out a way to derail it.
The rest of the story is a lesson for the young worker, as well as the veteran engineer, as they work together to stop a train that is on its way to disaster.

There is suspense and excitement throughout the movie, and the tension is finally eased between the two train engineers as they figure they have to rely on each other more than they originally thought.
Denzel is a widowed father of two young girls, who are both working their way through college serving chicken wings at Hooters. He’s probably not proud that they have to make a living this way, but it’s the way that works best for them. Chris has been in trouble with his wife and is estranged due to a restraining order, the subject of which initially keeps his mind away from the job at hand.

Denzel, Chris and Rosario are assisted by a master welder who drives like a bat out of hell to catch up and flip the switch on the train before it gets to a curved crossing that is sure to be the beginning of the end for all in its path.

All the intimate family members get to watch this potential tragedy play out on television, and everyone seems to grow closer because of it. After miles and miles of dreadful anticipation, Chris and Denzel are successful, with the help of the master welder, in stopping a train that they all thought was unstoppable.

Unstoppable is holding its own with pulling in lots of money for Denzel and the gang.It makes me wonder about the story upon which this movie is based and the real people attached to it.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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