The collaborations between actor Denzel Washington and director Tony Scott are nearly in the double digits now. It’s hard to believe that some of their best work like “Crimson Tide” is now over fifteen years old. I’m all for a good actor/director pairing. Some directors find actors they like and do great work with and the result is usually a great film. Take Martin Scorsese with his frequent stars Robert DeNiro and, of late, Leonardo DiCaprio. Moving on from the cast, I have to admit that the first thing that I thought of when I saw the trailer for “Unstoppable” was the mid 80’s film “Runaway Train” with Jon Voight and Eric Roberts. Still, I guess when it comes to films about trains – the selection most likely rather limited.
And so we meet the varied cast of characters including newly-hired Will (Chris Pine of “Star Trek” fame), a hot shot conductor whose arrival has signaled the departure of a few of the employees. Will, together with grizzled veteran Frank (Denzel Washington), get to know one another. It so happens that as the two learn that the train is actually carrying toxic chemicals and is heading out of control, they’re the only ones who are able to stop it else the city of Scranton, PA will be destroyed. But don’t fret – there’s help a comin’! The yardmaster, Connie (Rosario Dawson) tries her best to help them from where she’s at. Do they crash the train in a rural area (thereby costing the company millions, but saving more lives) or try and simply slow it down? Decisions, decisions…
Ok, let’s face it – “Unstoppable” is a movie that’s best described by reading the back of the box or seeing the trailer. SNL did a spoof on the trailer that I found hilarious, you can check that out here. Denzel, my favorite living actor, is good as always in his role. Yes, it’s a bit predictable but the SNL spoof actually does a very good job of saying everything that I can’t. Chris Pine is once again fine in his role, but I think that he wanted and needed to take something else that would distance him from the role of Capt. James T. Kirk. Check your brain at the door, sit back and, dare I say it…enjoy the ride.
Video: How does it look?
Fox presents “Unstoppable” in an attractive 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that looks every bit as good as you might think. Tony Scott has a variety of visual looks that he uses in some of his films and “Unstoppable” is no exception. Several scenes are very polarized, showcasing a wide array of colors. Detail is amazing, consider the five o’ clock shadow that perpetually graces Chris Pine’s face. Black levels and contrast are perfect as well. This is one of those movies that is literally made for showcasing a home theater.
Audio: How does it sound?
As visually appealing as the image is, so is the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. As one might think, any movie in which the premise is about a train that might derail will sound, well, amazing. Dialogue is sharp and crisp but the real show stopper here are the surrounds coupled with the LFE. This creates an all encompassing sound stage that puts you in the middle of the action (as intended). Sonics and the entire spectrum of audio are covered here and suffice it to say that short of witnessing a train wreck, listening to one might be the next best thing. Top notch.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Unstoppable” comes to Blu-ray in a two disc edition and a bevy of interesting, if not predictable, supplements. We start off with “Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene” which is actually quite interesting as we see how Scott and the crew filmed the finale in real time. “Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work” is a feature on, you guessed it, stunts as we check in with star Chris Pine as he offers up his thoughts on the scene and the stunts therein. “On the Rails with the Director and Cast” director Scott, Washington, Pine and Rosario Dawson discuss some of the more technical aspects of the movie as well as the stunts. “The Fastest Track: Unleashing ‘Unstoppable'” is essentially Tony Scott telling us how he likes to keep his movies as real as possible and his minimal use of CGI. Good for him – a purist (sort of). We also get a commentary track by Tony Scott in which he pretty much rehashes what we’ve just seen in the featurettes (or will see if you listen to this first). To be fair, Scott does give some pretty good commentary tracks. We end up with a segment on the script’s journey to the screen. The second disc contains a digital copy of the movie.