Directed by Tony Scott

Released: Nov. 12, 2010

How could a freight train chug off with no one on board to stop it? What ever happened to fail-safe systems? In “Unstoppable,” we get to see how American workers can mess up big time, and how they also can put their lives on the line to save the day. (As you might guess, we’re talking two different sets of workers.)

I really admire Denzel Washington’s acting skills, but neither he nor Chris Pine faces big challenges in these roles. They just hop on board this story and soon it gets rolling like a runaway …

The big question is: Can anybody stop this 70-mph missile and prevent explosions and destruction all along the elevated, sharply curved tracks of Scranton, Penn. (Don’t know if it is the real Scranton in the film, but it does make a good locale to consider the fading fortunes of blue-collar workers.)

Every once in a while I wondered what it would be like if the movie’s protagonists could show a little character development. But there’s no time for that. Our heroes have but one choice. Given a chance, will they risk their lives to stop the train? If they say “No,” we don’t have much of a movie.

Tight dialogue drew me in, as did the close calls and the scenes of that speeding train crashing its way through every impediment (ill-placed vehicles, another locomotive, some rail cars, etc.)

The movie works, but mainly as a testament to our love of stories and our desire to put ourselves in the shoes of the heroes. We like to imagine ourselves jumping headlong onto that racing locomotive. We like to hope that in such a trial, we also would give it our all.

— Robert Digitale