Pros: lots of action, Denzel is always good, audience will care about characters
Cons: might be too predictable for some, typical Tony Scott rolling police car
This Unstoppable review isn't seeking to convince anyone that this is the best movie ever, nor are Denzel Washington and Chris Pine at their best in the lead roles. None of those facts take away from the fact that the film was still quite enjoyable, and one that everyone involved should be proud of participating in.
The basic plot synopsis isn't one that has to break the mold, and maybe the promoters got it right when they stated the premise of this film. The plot of Unstoppable, is that a "veteran engineer and a young conductor try frantically to stop a half-mile-long freight train carrying enough combustible liquids and poisonous gas to wipe out a nearby city." That wraps it up in a nutshell, but doesn't completely relay what makes the film worth watching.
The veteran engineer is played by Denzel Washington, a man who has been on the job for 28 years up to this point. The young conductor, played by Chris Pine, has only been on the job for four months. They are teamed up to make a routine run that puts them on the same track as a runaway train, and decide to try and stop it. This attempt goes against orders, goes against logic, and goes against any self-preservation that they might have had. It is also an effort to save lives in an area where both of them have lived for quite some time.
Washington is of course good as Frank, a man who has become one of the best in the business, and knows more about how the trains and tracks work than anyone around him. Pine plays Will, a guy new to trains, but who has ties to a family with a deep tradition of working on the rails. It isn't fully explained in the film, but it seems like his character has gained this position of conductor by knowing (or being related to) the right people. Together, Frank and Will are definitely an odd team, but they will get past their disdain for each other when duty calls.
The supporting characters include Rosario Dawson as Connie, the switchboard operator trying to help solve the situation. The rest of the cast is secondary at best, with some being placed in a heroic capacity, and others standing in the way of saving lives or doing the right thing. In that regard, the movie doesn't provide a lot of originality for the supporting roles, but they are really there to help further the main plot points anyways.
What works for Unstoppable is that it brings a lot of action to a very simple plot premise: stopping an unmanned train. The leads are both interesting, and the writing is just good enough to make the audience care about whether they survive or not. As an action movie goes, that is about the most you can ask for, and the film does end up delivering some good entertainment for about 100 minutes. Unstoppable isn't going to change the world, but it certainly was an enjoyable way to spend an evening in the theater.