It’s difficult for me to remember the last Tony Scott film I unabashedly enjoyed. I’d probably have to go with his 1998 film, Enemy of the State, which had a great, frazzled performance by Will Smith and a kinetic style that actually dovetailed nicely with the film’s message about our surveillance society. Pretty much everything since then (e.g. Spy Game, Deja Vu, Domino, The Taking of Pelham 123) has either been headache-inducing or disappointingly mediocre, with the possible exception of Man on Fire.
Scott’s latest film, Unstoppable, hits theaters today and has Denzel Washington and a post-Star Trek Chris Pine trying to stop an unmanned train that’s gone out of control. Is it a step in the right direction for Tony Scott? Does Chris Pine prove he has more in him than just one good performance as Captain Kirk? Does Denzel Washington show us anything new? Hit the jump to hear some brief thoughts and share your own in the comments below. As usual, spoilers are allowed after this point and in the comments.
What Scott has created with Unstoppable is a very solid B-movie. Pine and Washington both turns in charismatic performances as working class men just trying to do a good deed, and they play off Rosario Dawson nicely (herself playing a glib train dispatcher who knows just a bit more than her incompetent superiors). There’s a nice David-vs.-Goliath vibe that runs through the movie, but the camp value is fully embraced; when Dawson is delivering dialogue like “We’re not just talking about a train…we’re talking about a missile the size of the Chrysler Building!”, I can only assume she knew how preposterous that line was and was having loads of fun with it. I certainly did.
Scott’s direction here is an exercise in self-restraint after the bombast of Pelham and the time-bending antics of Deja Vu. Nonetheless, he constantly feels the need to gussy up every conversation with the most dynamic shots possible, yet it feels like he runs out of ideas halfway through. Bafflingly, he resorts to the same, wildly whirling camera movements/helicopter shots over and over again over the course of this film. But despite his efforts at ruining this movie, Unstoppable succeeds at providing some thrills, laughs, and a satisfying conclusion that ends up being a fun time at the theater and far more enjoyable than anything Scott has done in recent years.
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