UNSTOPPABLE Review – The Runaway Train came down the hill and Blew Up; Unless Chris Pine and Denzel Washington can Stop it

27 04 2011

Since I was young I have always liked trains. There is a brilliant Museum in York called The National Railway Museum which I have visited a few times. It contains many famous trains including Mallard and a Bullet Train. There was a Great place in Cornwall called Dobwalls where there was a miniature railway (until they ruined it by removing it) which was well designed with 2 trains running every day. I even have a Miniature Railway; I have not used it for a while though. In 2010 I was looking through YouTube and found this interesting film trailer which included trains in it. The film is called Unstoppable and it is based around a real life event (I think I might have seen it on Newsround) where a train filled with Toxic Chemicals goes on the run with no-one at the controls.

The film is by Tony Scott (brother of Ridley Scott) and stars Denzel Washington as Frank Barnes (a veteran railroad engineer) and Chris Pine as Will Colson (a young train conductor) with Rosario Dawson as Connie Hooper (a train yardmaster).

The film is based on the CSX 8888 Incident;

The CSX 8888 incident, also known as the Crazy Eights incident, involved an unmanned runaway train led by CSX Transportation locomotive #8888, an EMD SD40-2 that was pulling a freight train consisting of 47 cars, some of them loaded with Molten Phenol, a highly explosive and largely toxic chemical. The train ran uncontrolled for two hours at speeds up to 51 miles per hour (82 km/h) through the U.S. state of Ohio. It was finally brought to a stop with the help of a railroad crew in a second locomotive which caught up with the runaway and Coupled to the rear car. Wikipedia

The film starts out with Will Colson meeting Frank Barnes for the first time and the 2 of them head out to work with Frank Barnes acting as a teacher to Colson. Meanwhile a train with School Children onboard is going on a trip to a rail yard to learn about rail safety. At the rail yard 2 workers are told to move a train from its current siding to another. One of them gets into the engine and waits for confirmation, the other worker discovers that one of the Air Brakes is not attached, because it is a short trip the man in the engine tells the other worker to leave it, he begins to move the train. The man in the engine room discovers that the points are in the wrong place and gets out of the MOVING train to switch them, however the train’s speed control has slipped and is now in the full speed position accelerating more and more, the man in the engine room switches the points but fails to get back in the train. Connie Hooper arrives and finds out about this and tells the 2 workers to go and chase after it. She contacts a welder named Ned Oldham (Lew Temple) and asks him to keep his eyes on it. Meanwhile Will and Frank collect some carts in Stanton Pennsylvania and start to talk to one another.

Connie discovers that the Runaway train named Triple Seven is on the same line as the train that is carrying the School Children and tells the driver of that train to go to a diversion, he just makes it as the Runaway (now at full speed) runs straight past them. Connie reports the incident to Oscar Galvin (Kevin Dunn). It is discovered that the train is carrying Molten Phenol and would cause a major disaster if the train de-railed. Galvin decides to try and slow down the train by putting one in front of it and try to land someone on the runaway to slow it down, the attempt fails.

Connie asks the police force to close every rail crossing on the line and at this point Ned talks to some of the police and they decide to help him chase the train. Will and Frank are told to go into a siding but because they picked up some extra cars Frank decides to try a different siding, when they reach the siding Triple Seven is in sight heading towards them. They manage to get into the siding losing a cart off the back.

Frank decides to try and stop the train by chasing the train from behind it and then pull it in the other direction. Galvin decides to try and derail Triple Seven with derailers. The train reaches the derailers and runs straight through them with nothing happening. When Galvin and Connie hear about Frank and Wills idea to pull the train in the other direction Galvin threatens to fire them both, it is then revealed that Frank has been given a 3 month notice. When the derailers fail to stop Triple Seven Connie decides to ignore Galvin and tells Colson and Barnes to catch the train. They manage to catch up to it and when Will tries to connect the two trains he gets his foot crushed. A safety inspector who is visiting the rail yard informs Colson and Barnes that braking their train instead of pulling it might work better than pulling it. As they start to brake it does not much good so Frank heads out onto the carts being pulled by Triple Seven and applies the manual brake slowing the whole train down. However this is not enough to stop it and the brakes on the Chase Train blow leaving only the independent air brakes left. As the train enters a large curve at Stanton fears grow it could derail and cause a huge accident. With the correct timing Colson applies the Independent Air Brakes and stops the train from derailing. Frank continues to apply the brakes but stops when the distance between 2 cars is too wide to jump. Then Ned drives out onto a parallel stretch of road and races up to the chase train. Will jumps in and the car speeds up to catch the front of Triple Seven. Will manages to jump onto the train and walks into it and brings the runaway to a complete stop.

Everyone celebrates and many people get rewarded. Frank gets promoted, he is now retired with full benefits, Will continues to work for the rail company and is expecting his second child, Connie becomes Vice President of Train Operations (Oscar Galvin’s old job) and the train yard worker who left the train to change the points is now working in the Fast Food Industry.

The film is a nonstop ride of action with the Action only getting faster as the film progresses with the action stopping as the train stops. The cast has been well-chosen for this film, in particular Rosario Dawson as Connie Hooper and Lew Temple as Ned Oldham. Denzel Washington is amazing in this film and the role suits him well. The trains are real as well making the film look amazing and real, it is good that they are real because CGI would not have the same effect and feel to the film. The Music also adds to the Excitement, When the music starts it does not stop, just like the film. Unstoppable is my Second Favorite film of 2010 with the action starting as the train leaves the yard and not slowing down until the train slows down. I really recommend this film, it has action that does not stop and contains a really great mix of Action, Music and Characters with Great Actors to play them.

Unstoppable is a must see.




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