Friday, September 23, 2011

Five Minutes Watching: Unstoppable

I don't watch a lot of movies, because I don't have time. But at the end of day of work, then class, then reading for the next class, and writing down what I wrote so I can remember it all, I'll turn on one of them pay channels I have for just such an emergency and catch five minutes of something.

In the interest of full disclosure, this wasn't really five minutes of watching this. I've now probably caught bits and pieces of this at least ten times over the past few weeks and each time I'm compelled to watch a little more than I planned. It's a very interesting movie, where for the bulk of it the main characters are in a very small space, doing something amazing. Acting.

If you don't know, the story fairly simple  - a series of fairly basic accidents cause a freight train to leave the station with no driver.  Two company employees then stop said train. That's pretty much it. There are number of things that make this interesting, my main one is that the two heroes are just two guys who were doing their jobs and then decided to do something they really didn't have to do...because it was the right thing to do. Nobody turned out to be a former Ninja Navy SEAL, nobody got shot, and the characters back stories were fairly mundane. Technically, it could have been anyone going to work and then when things went off the rails, stepping up and doing something. 

Other than some obvious movie angles when they tried to work in the fake news footage, or the cell phone usage, and that the runaway train didn't seem to be going really fast in a number of shots, it was fairly straightforward. Everyone had a halfway reason for doing the stuff they did with few exceptions.  Management was driven by costs. The Yard Master felt squeezed. The guys in the field were throwing something at the wall and see if it stuck. I read a couple of reviews after I watched it and the people critical of the film hated how they Hollywooded it up. But then there had to be some tension, I mean, come on. Otherwise it just could have been a documentary voiced by Morgan Freeman.

Even more surprising, Chris Pine can act. After seeing him the mess that was the Star Trek reboot...or re-imagining... or re-whatever lets them sleep at night....I was about to write him off as another pretty boy actor who more or less fell into a sweet gig. But in this he actually looks and sounds like a guy whose life has taken an odd turn, but is otherwise just trying to make it to the next payday. And Denzel manages to find his way out of previous acting stupor and puts a nice little spin on Engineer Frank Barnes, giving him all the emotions of guy in a situation he didn't plan on, but trying to make it work.

In the end, its a pretty watchable flick. Not perfect, but pretty damn watchable. See it from the very beginning if you do, because there is a nuance that I didn't get the full effect of through two viewings until I saw the first five minutes.

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