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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: Unstoppable

It’s just this simple.

Ethan Suplee… funny fat guy… has to move a really long train a really short distance. He gets in the engine, starts it rolling, realizes he hasn’t switched the track and if he gets past the switch, it will take hours to fix the mistake. He jumps out of the slow-moving engine and runs to get the switch switched. But the gear shifts into high speed and the train starts speeding up. He can’t get back on. Runaway train. Giant runaway train.

If you think this is a spoiler, you are expecting too much story out of Unstoppable.

Meanwhile, Denzel & Cap’n Kirk Jr are in another train in another part of Pennsylvania, chatting about what it’s like to be old and what it’s like to be young.

The train is out of control. Eventually, our heroes go on a mission to stop it… pretty much the third act.

That’s it. Without the detail work, that’s Unstoppable.

Oh… and it may be the most entertaining movie you will see this year.


Tony Scott. This is his train set and he shoots the living hell out of it. The seats rumble, small towns and smaller people are threatened, how can it be stopped, Rosario Dawson as The Level Headed Boss in the control seat fighting off the idiot from Upstairs, some guy chasing the train in a truck… and of course, Denzel flexing his charm and Chris Pine flexing his muscles.

You will not believe how fun watching this thing is. And how completely without nutritional value!

It’s 127 Hours without the threat of making you feel anything deeper than… “Hey, how are they going to stop that giant, f-ing speeding train?”

It’s Speed without the Dennis Hopper character.

It’s the most fun you can have without a handful of joints and a Spongebob marathon. (Note: I don’t even smoke… but I get the impression that if I did, I’d watch to watch Spongebob and keep the Magnolia Bakery delivery guy on my speed dial.)

If you don’t have a good time at this movie, you don’t want to have a good time at this movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… except you’ll die before your time being such a tight ass. (Did I just type that?)

But seriously, like it or don’t like it. I don’t care.

I feel like I am writing the same thing over and over… and am… because it fits the film. But this review is not nearly as fun to read as the movie is to watch.

Maybe if I try to do a Pete Travers pull quote! David Poland of Movie City News says, “All Abooaarrddd!!!!”

Nah. You’ll just have to go see the movie… and see it in a theater, where you’ll get the full Sensurround. It’s just a great old-fashioned, dumb, smart movie movie that everyone over 6 will enjoy, unless your dad likes to get a nap in the theater… that ain’t happening.

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52 Responses to “Review: Unstoppable”

  1. berg says:

    I don’t even smoke… but I get the impression that if I did, I’d watch to watch Spongebob and keep the Magnolia Bakery delivery guy on my speed dial …,.

    If you did smoke you would want to actually watch something substantial and eat a Carmalite bar with some iced coffee on the side

  2. anghus says:

    great to hear. really looking forward to this.

  3. IOv3 says:

    Anyone also looking forward to Skyline? Come on! BALFOUR NEEDS TO BE A STAR DAMN IT!

  4. tony poe says:

    Great review!! Fuuuunny. Really looking forward to seeing this movie…trailers look great!!

  5. LexG says:

    Saw this at the sneak preview Saturday night: It’s a blast. But obviously I’m squarely in Tony’s corner 100% of the time anyway, so many would take that appraisal in stride.

    That said, it’s easily his goofiest, lightest movie since the DAYS OF THUNDER/LAST BOY SCOUT days, the crazy tricks dialed way, way down, and most of the EXTREME SILLINESS (Denzel’s Hooters waitress daughters, Ethan Suplee’s picture on the news) are intentionally tongue in cheek.

    Also a case where the 95-ish minute runtime is just perfect… In and out, no pretension, just balls-to-the-wall entertainment.

    And Pine is really great.

  6. actionman says:

    so pumped for this.

  7. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    I am looking forward to Skyline IO. I like Balfour a lot, going back to Six Feet Under. Also a big David (Dexter) Zayas fan. Looks like that $20 million budget was stretched pretty far. Not expecting anything original or groundbreaking, but it looks like it could be fun. Same with Unstoppable.

    Ah, The Last Boy Scout. One of my most-watched movies during my teen years.

  8. krazyeyes says:

    I liked this film better when it starred Jon Voight and Eric Roberts.

    Seriously though, I recently noticed Runaway Train was on streaming Netflix and watched it again after about 20 years. It’s a weird film and both stars are hamming the hell out of the material but I still really enjoyed it. The ending is so understated and perfect.

  9. Krillian says:

    What about the dizzying camera-work? I’ve read people get motion-sick from Tony Scott’s refusal to hold a steady shot, like he’s trying to out-Bay Michael Bay.

  10. Nick Rogers says:

    Lex: I found Tony Scott’s impression of Hooters to be one of the most uproarious things I’ve seen in a movie this year. Granted, I’ve not been in years, but I’m guessing it hasn’t morphed from a pantylines-and-cleavage Applebee’s into … what Scott presents. As for the rest of the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Pine and Washington’s chemistry was perfect.

  11. Keil Shults says:

    More fun than Winter’s Bone? Surely you jest.

  12. anghus says:

    itd be nice to see Skyline do well, but all the ads make me think ‘tank time’. In the ads ive spotted Turk from Scrubs. Angel from Dexter. The Girl who plays the Tranny on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Balfour.

    So the entire draw will be based on concept:

    aliens attacking earth.


    40 million? Maybe 50?

    If it breaks out, excellent. But i think it looks like Cloverfield w/o a gimmick and is stocked with tv actors. I’m not sure how it fares over the Holidays.

    I feel the same way about Faster. I love a good B revenge flick, but releasing on Nov 24th? This year’s winner of the ‘Nick of Time’ bizzare holiday slot film.

  13. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    The Faster release date is totally bizarre. Who wants to see a violent revenge pic over Thanksgiving? Probably not too many people.

  14. Nick Rogers says:

    My favorite Thanksgiving-holiday release of the last few years was “The Mist.” I just shot my child, but wait, there’s the cavalry! Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. cadavra says:

    It’s called counter-programming. You’d be surprised how many people will not be sitting down to a big turkey dinner with family and friends.

    I’m not a fan of Scott’s ADD style of filmmaking, but UNSTOPPABLE looks like it might be an exception. David’s confirmation that there’s only a thimbleful of plot and the rest is just action adds to that expectation, so count me in. BTW, did anyone see Jay Pharoah’s spot-on Denzel impression on SNL? This kid is talented.

  16. anghus says:

    hee hee. yeah, the mist was also a freaky release date. sometimes i wonder about where films end up on the release schedule.

    like, Skyline and Faster both feel like August films. Do they both get lost in November but because of all the traffic still end up getting to 50 million?

    too niche for for november?

  17. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    I understand counter-programming very well thank you. Is there a history of great counter-programming successes on Thanksgiving weekend? Sure a lot of people won’t have a big family dinner, but that doesn’t mean they want to head out to see Faster. I’d say August and January seem like better times to release Faster and Skyline.

  18. Nick Rogers says:

    Let’s look at what could be considered pulpy Thanksgiving counter-programming from the last few years: Ninja Assassin, Transporter 3, Hitman, The Mist, Deja Vu (maybe), Timeline, Extreme Ops (which I actually saw for Christ’s sake), Wes Craven Presents They (which I also actually saw for Christ’s sake).

    So, not a good track record.

    Throw out Deja Vu, and the two biggest domestic grossers are Hitman and Ninja Assassin – just shy of $40M. If I had to bet on either Skyline or Faster approaching that number, I’d go with Skyline solely because of the alien action factor.

  19. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Thanks Nick. That’s what I assumed. I couldn’t recall any smash hit Thanksgiving counter-programming flicks.

  20. cadavra says:

    All true, but $40 mill for low-budgeters like HITMAN and NINJA spell black ink to me. The only real “big” picture in that bunch is DEJA VU, which performed accordingly.

  21. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Ninja Assassin grossed $38 million against a budget of $40 million. Hitman made just under $40 million against a budget of $30 million. I guess that’s OK but it hardly seems like numbers studios would be eager to try and match.

  22. Nick Rogers says:

    HITMAN: $99M ww, $39M domestic, $24M budget
    NINJA: $61M ww, $38M domestic, $40M budget

    Throw in P&A, and I’d say NINJA breaks even at best (banking too much on Rain’s international appeal?), and HITMAN profits $50M or so. Right?

  23. Nick Rogers says:

    ^^ Redundant. Sorry, Paul.

  24. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    No problem. I saw Hitman as $24 million and $30 million, not that it matters all that much.

  25. LexG says:


    Since I have no family for thousands of miles, can’t take a week off work to travel, not a big football fan, and couldn’t care less about Thanksgiving… I couldn’t think of a more awesome way to spent it than watching FASTER.

    Amused that that’s directed by workmanlike George Tillman Jr, whose SOUL FOOD, MEN OF HONOR and even NOTORIOUS had absolutely ZERO visual style, no particularly hook, look, or sheen. With this one, it’s like he just watched GONE IN 60 SECONDS and a few Peter Berg movies and told his DP, “Just copy THAT look EXACTLY.” It’s like if Shawn Levy did a hard action movie and suddenly broke out this full Bay-cam sheen.

  26. Nick Rogers says:

    I’m not saying I don’t think FASTER looks fun, although I wish I were able to see MGM’s RED DAWN update as originally planned this Turkey Day. Avenge meeeeee!

  27. anghus says:

    nick, good perspective on the thanksgiving counter programmer. i suppose with that in mind, maybe skyline and faster have the right idea.

  28. chris says:

    …except the people who might like both of those movies are going to be a “Unstoppable” (I’m not in love with it, but it’s going sell a lotta tickets).

  29. NickF says:

    In one of the most recent commercials I finally saw what Ridley was talking about in your DP/30 interview. He really is shooting the hell out of Denzel and Pine. And it actually looks coherent too.

  30. David Poland says:

    Cad… when we were waiting to shoot Tony Scott a few weeks back, Chris Pine was showing Denzel the Jay Pharoah imitation of him on an iPhone. He laughed a lot.

  31. Hopscotch says:

    I’ve seen Jay Pharoah in exactly three sketches on SNL: one where he did Denzel, one where he did Eddie Murphy, and one where he did Will Smith.

    They are brilliant mimics. Each one is eerily similar- sounding, but he nails the character affectations on the head. The Will Smith one is my favorite.

    Unfortunately, and this deserves a long tangent, SNL sidelines its black performers and hosts. I’m sure we can come up with a FEW exceptions in the shows 35 year history, but I feel strongly black performers get the short end of the stick on that program.

  32. IOv3 says:

    Hop, they do get the shaft on the show and it’s not until they are off the show, that they have a chance to shine. This new kid is freaking awesome and the fact that he’s barely been used, when the girls added to the cast seemingly get in sketch after sketch, is pretty fucking pathetic.

  33. jesse says:

    IO, although I agree that black comedians often get screwed by SNL (though the lack of slate-clearing cast changes in recent years have meant they’ve had three black comedians — Kenan, Tracy Morgan, and Tim Meadows — all settle in for long, successful runs)… what SNL girls are getting in “sketch after sketch” apart from the admittedly insanely-overused Kristen Wiig? Let’s take a look at SNL’s post-Wiig female cast members, going backwards:

    Vanessa Bayer: five episodes in, has appeared in one real showcase sketch, “The Miley Cyrus Show”

    Nasim Pedrad: is in a fair number of sketches and is awesome

    Jenny Slate: fired after one season

    Abby Elliott: on her third season, has yet to develop a single signature character or even much of a style, or be promoted out of “featured” status

    Michaela Watkins: fired after one season *despite* developing some popular characters/bits

    Casey Wilson: fired after two seasons

    Collectively, sure, they’ve all appeared in a fair number of sketches… but I wouldn’t say any of them have gotten some kind of preferential treatment, except maybe Abby Elliott, who is likable and amusing but seems to get by more due to cuteness. If anything, Wilson, Watkins, and Slate have been more misused and poorly treated than most cast members of the past decade.

    Not to turn this into a suffering contest. I really liked Jerry Minor and Finesse Mitchell and they both got the boot. But I don’t think the show has much bias towards female cast members except maybe being noticeably less sexist since the advent of Tina Fey/Amy Poehler/Maya Rudolph.

  34. jesse says:

    Also regarding SNL, I’ve wondered if black comedians not having as much success on the show has something to do with the way the show seems to recruit black stand-up guys, whereas most of the rest of the cast tends to come from sketch and improv. Kenan is a notable exception, having done time on the awful All That. Tim Meadows, I believe, also did sketch work. But Tracy Morgan, Jay Pharoah, Finesse Mitchell, Chris Rock… all had more stand-up-ish origins, and the more successful cast members on the show since the last major overhaul in the mid-nineties haven’t tended to be stand-ups. I wonder why that is — if there just aren’t as many black comedians working in improv/sketch/etc., or if SNL just has some weird thing where they want black stand-ups, even if that means someone as funny as Mitchell or Pharoah has limited options on the show (though granted, it worked out well for Tracy Morgan — ideally, really, since it led to his great 30 Rock performance). Of course, they allegedly passed on Donald Glover, who is hilarious in a sketch troupe and on Community, so maybe they’re just a little comedically tone-deaf sometimes.

  35. LexG says:

    More Pedrad, less Wiig! Lately it seems that Wiig is getting TWO full sketches per episode to play one of her mannered, tic-y, Gilly/Target/One-Upper/Ham Actress/Piano Lady/Sexy Voice in Gym Class characters. SO tiresome.

    Abby Elliot is kind of the hot-chick version of Jay Pharaoh, specializing in amazingly spot-on impressions of blonde actresses (Anna Faris, Drew Barrymore, Brittany Murphy, Laura Linney.)

    Speaking of impressions, they should just have Hader do that Alan Alda impression any time a skit runs out of steam.

  36. IOv3 says:

    Wiig is going to be a hardcore serious actress one day, so I guess Lorne is getting as much funny from her as he can. That aside, Jesse you make good points about the way those three ladies have been treated but Jay Pharoah has SUPERSTAR written all over him and they are not touching him. Seriously, he’s just sitting there and that’s criminal.

    Hell, I wonder if Keenan would even be utilized as much as he is these days, if it were not for What’s Up With That? Whateverthecase, Lorne is a weirdo and on that we can all agree.

  37. Joe Leydon says:

    Wasn’t there talk of a “Hitman 2” at one point a while back?

  38. cadavra says:

    Sorry to get off the tangent I started, but I just want to say that anyone who would spend $40 million on a sub-New World-level turnip like NINJA ASSASSIN should never be let anywhere near a checkbook again.

  39. anghus says:

    there was talk of a hitman 2, but i believe olyphant was not going to reprise the role. sounds ‘straight to video’ to me.

  40. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    There was and might still be Hitman 2 talk. I assumed it’d be direct-to-DVD. Never heard Olyphant being mentioned.

    Watched the opening of Ninja Assassin on Cinemax not too long ago. CGI gore is absurd and stupid. Didn’t watch more than 10 minutes or so.

  41. anghus says:

    Ninja Assasain was pretty awful. Hitman was miserable. Are these counterprogramming movies ever any good?

  42. IOv3 says:

    Ninja Assassin ruled. CGI gore is also a part of The Walking Dead. If you guys want to make any more comments about genre fare that make you seem even more curmudgeonly than usual than please go right ahead.

  43. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    I love genre fare IO. Must you always be such an asshole? Is no one allowed to have an opinion that’s different from yours, ever? I can’t comment on Ninja Assassin as a whole, but IMO, the CGI gore at the beginning looked a little ridiculous. That hardly means I am unqualified to comment on genre fare. You can be so obtuse and puerile.

  44. anghus says:

    Paul, i think io is a lost cause. Hes devolved into qualifying everyone to invalidate their opinion.

    You cant debate someone who believes they know everything. Youre a curmudgeon, im a 90s angst ridden something or other. Why bother trying to find common ground with someone who has already decided your opinion is usesless?

  45. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Yeah you’re right anghus. I’m better off ignoring him.

  46. Krillian says:

    1. Skyline will flop. Everything they show in the preview is people thinking they’re about to find safety only to have a giant tentacle yank it away from them. And the cast looks like they collected the people who die first from other horror movies and plopped them in here.

    2. Jay Pharaoh is the white Bill Hader, and Pharaoh should be doing Obama. His Denzel routine was one of the funniest SNL skits of the new season. And Lorne Michaels firing Michaela Watkins was one of the dumbest personnel decisions he’s ever made.

    3. Never saw Ninja Assassin but Hitman was a letdown, and if they can’t bring back Olyphant, it’s sure to be worse than Punisher: War Zone.

  47. IOv3 says:

    Paul: how am I being an asshole? I am just replying to what I am reading: two grown ass men kevetching about Ninja Assassin and other genre films and to me, that’s curmudgeonly. Excuse me for having an opinion on your post and stating as much. Seriously, if anyone is being an asshole, it sure as hell is not me, because I am not the one getting all riled up over nothing.

    Anghus: if you want to post like an angst ridden kid from 1996, then go right ahead. This will not stop me from pointing out, that all of a sudden, the world is apparently dark to you and without joy. Seriously, it has nothing to do with knowing everything or invalidating your opinions, which how can you invalidate an opinion anyway? I disagree with you, that does not mean I am derezing you or anything. Seriously, stop it.

    The both of you. Stop it.

  48. Nick Rogers says:

    It’s actually KVETCHING, if that’s what you choose to call it.

  49. IOv3 says:

    Thank you Nick. Thank you so much. :D!


  50. cadavra says:

    I can only speak for myself, but I enjoy mindless action films…as long as they’re GOOD mindless action films.

    Oddly, the best action film I’ve seen this year is French–DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM. Those dudes know how to bring it home and fry it up.

  51. IOv3 says:

    Seriously, it’s like a cave in here. All I hear is my dog panting. It’s ridiculous.

  52. Scott says:

    District 13 was amazing. All you need to know about this one is VOMITCAM ALERT!!

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