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Review

Nail-biter tears up train tracks

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November 18, 2010

I feel like I’ve become very jaded towards newly released movies. Mostly, I just like to poke fun at the gimmicky Hollywood junk that winds up on screen, completely unashamed of its birth from a movie company profit equation.

But over the past several months, I have really seen very few films that have tightened the pants for my inner movie lover.

Then, when I realized that my best option for the week was the out of control vehicle disaster movie “Unstoppable,” which looked suspiciously like “Speed 3” in disguise, I knew that if I didn’t take some sort of action, my movie habit was in jeopardy of being kicked.

So I did what any sensible addict does, I grabbed six or seven titles from the library and went on a three-day movie binge. It turns out this was exactly what I needed.

With my cravings satisfied, I found myself cruising along on the way to the theater and actually looking forward to what promised to be a very silly and very action-packed movie, which is pretty much exactly what I got.

“Unstoppable” is the nail-biting tale of a Pennsylvania cargo train that accidentally has its brakes disengaged, is cranked to full power and is left unmanned.

All of which is understandable, considering how apparently commonplace it is to leave dangerous machinery in the charge of complete idiots in America.

Oh, and the train is carrying like 10,000 tons of highly explosive chemicals.

Of course.

So the train gets away from its operators, and two unlikely partners — one a soon to be downsized railroad vet (Denzel Washington) and the other young cowboy (Chris Pine) who keeps getting berated with the cry of “you took er jerrbbbss!” — decide to chase it down before it hits a certain sharp turn in a rapidly approaching city.

What’s really crazy is that this apparently actually happened in a city in Pennsylvania in 2001.

How did I not hear about the half-mile long runaway warhead story until now? Something tells me a bit of dramatic license was used here.

While this movie has pretty much everything you could expect from a runaway train movie — car stuck on the tracks, horses stuck on the tracks, people stuck on the tracks, incoming train full of school-children, daring helicopter rescue attempt, bad guy, love story — it never tries to be anything that the trailer didn’t claim it would be.

It sure was mindless, and I really feel like it wouldn’t matter much if I gave away the ending. Quite frankly, it was a fun movie to watch.

There’s lots of unintentional comedy, corny acting and dialogue, some genuine comedy and touching moments and a few heart stopping scenes where I found myself thinking, “Watch out little schoolchildren!!!”

This certainly isn’t a movie for deep philosophical ideas, or introspection but more something for you and your friends to go see for kicks.

I’m sure you could find enough train, tunnel and “half-mile-long” analogies to make it worth your while.

Anthony Orlando is a math major and physics minor. He runs for the UW-River Falls cross country team. He once met Dan Auerbach and is a minor celebrity in Malaysia.