|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 21 February 2011|
The film follows a basic action/adventure film’s path. Someone screws up in the opening, big disaster for a major corporation, failed attempts at staving off disaster, two heroes to the rescue. That about sums it up, except for the corporate struggle and the wife with a restraining order suddenly worried about her husband that becomes a hero.
The film is set in Southern Pennsylvania where train yards still reign supreme. Chris Pine and Denzel Washington, Tony Scott’s go to actor for action/suspense films (“Taking Of Pelham 1,2,3,” “Déjà vu,” “Man On Fire,” etc.) are our two heroes who are enjoying a pleasant day on the railways until they are on a collision course with a runaway train.
Due to the boneheaded moves a railway car driver, a half-mile long, 10-million ton train is under full power with no driver aboard, headed straight for the populated areas of Stanton, Pennsylvania. The film paces itself by cutting between multiple points of view. We have Connie (Rosario Dawson) as the yardmaster, dealing with everything headquarters, along with uptight businessmen at corporate. Frank (Washington) and Will (Pine) are our heroes out in the train. Frank is a veteran engineer who holds a grudge against Will, who is the new hotshot conductor, symbolizing to Frank the old adage “out with the old and in with the new.”
Meanwhile, Ned is like a storm chaser. He spends the entirety of the film surround by a police escort and following the runaway train. Then there is the family side of things. Frank’s daughters watch from their job at Hooters, and Will’s wife eventually catches up at the end. Lastly, we have the corporate officers that sit in their offices and try to come up with the most ridiculous savior plans possible that will endanger the surrounding towns.
Despite going 70 miles per hour, I felt like the train should have been easy enough to catch up to and with some antics get someone into the cab. Of course, this comes from years of watching non-stop action thrillers. If this were “Mission Impossible” then the film would have been over before it began. Ethan Hunt would have just been helicoptered in on a wire and swung himself into the cab. Movie over.
I guess that Tony Scott had the same thought as I did and there is actually that sequence in the film. Of course it fails due to an ever so slight hiccup and instead of trying again they move on to total destruction.
Despite the loop holes and formulaic plot of “Unstoppable” the film is of great fun. If you ignore the predictable future, then each moment is suspenseful. The action is very nicely conceived without being over the top.
“Unstoppable” comes to Blu-ray with a near perfect video transfer. The film’s image falls right in line with a typical Tony Scott production. The colors and hues are warm and inviting, despite the dreariness of Southern Pennsylvania. Even though the colors are punchy, they still fit within the sequence and never detract from a scene’s viewing. Details are sharp and edgy. The grittiness of facial textures are ever present. Black levels rich the depths of richness and provide for tremendous depth to the image. There does not appear to be any major artifacting or post-production tinkering here. There are a couple instances of aliasing that only the pros will be able to spot and even then it isn’t a huge issue. You will be very pleased with this video transfer.
If anything here could top the video transfer it would be the audio, and it most certainly does. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track is refined and detailed like nothing I have heard in quite some time. Each and every screech of the train wheels on the track can be heard. The rumble of the trains on the tracks can be heard for miles. The LFE provides excellent support throughout the film. Dynamics are right on track for Tony Scott. Harsh film cuts provide for great sound editing dynamics. The dialogue remains well prioritized and intelligible. The surround channels are never disappointing. There are engaging and immersive from beginning to end. Directionality is spot on and panning is fluid. It is easy to say that it is the audio track that brings this formulaic action/suspense film to life.
“Unstoppable” comes to Blu-ray on a 2-disc set. The second disc is a Digital Copy. On the Blu-ray disc there are few bonus materials but they have some depth. There are two audio commentaries of sorts here. The first is a standard audio commentary with director Tony Scott. However, the highlight is the second commentary with Tony Scott and writer Mark Bomback. This is titled “Tracking The Story: Unstoppable Script Development.” This commentary analyzes the original script and brings out the problems and the solutions. “Derailed: Anatomy Of A Scene” shows how the derailed train sequence was shot. “Hanging Off The Rails: Stunt Work” is self-explanatory. “The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable” is a making-of featurette. “On The Rails With The Director And Cast” is another making-of featurette that is more cast focused. Lastly, there is a theatrical trailers and BD-Live functionality.
“Unstoppable” isn’t surprising, but it does pack a fun ride and is definitely worth the addition. The video and audio qualities are of the best so far this year.