Tony Scott is great at directing tense, edge-of-your-seat moments, and he doesn't fail his audience in "Unstoppable," the latest Denzel Washington movie, which is about a runaway train and the brave souls who try to stop it.

Scott has directed Washington previously in such solid movies as "Man On Fire" and "The Taking of Pelham 123," as well as one of my all-time favorites, "Crimson Tide." They always have worked well together, and this film, not to be confused with the 1985 movie "Runaway Train" about two escaped convicts aboard such a vehicle, is no exception.

This has a basis in a real events, when a train traveled more than 60 miles through Ohio in 2001. The characters here are fictional, but that doesn't make the story less enjoyable.

We first meet Will Colson (Chris Pine, the young James T. Kirk in "Star Trek") as he heads toward a railroad assignment in Pennsylvania. Will has a lot on his mind (I won't give that away here) and gets a lot more as soon as he reports to work. He trades barbs with an older worker and doesn't exactly make a good first impression with Frank (Washington), who knows that young newbies such as Will are replacing guys such as himself.

Will expects Frank to give him a hard time, but he refuses to back down: He has been through training and insists that he knows what he's doing. But as Frank and Will bicker, tension is mounting elsewhere along the railroad when a careless move by another worker (Ethan Suplee, television's "My Name is Earl") results in a train literally getting away with no one on board to control it.

At first, the train is referred to as a "coaster" because nearly everyone involved believes it can be stopped fairly easily. The train dispatcher, Connie (Rosario Dawson), begins to realize, though, that the train is picking up speed and becoming more and more of a menace because of its cargo and acceleration.

The train is moving through small towns at a frightening pace, and it seems to be headed into Stanton, a city with a huge population. Cities are evacuated, the military becomes involved, helicopters hover close and news crews swarm to catch the latest on what may be the biggest railroad disaster in the East.

When is Washington not enjoyable in a role? He's is here as the working-class dad who realizes he grows closer to danger as each second passes. Pine is believable as the rookie who, despite his age and experience, knows a thing or two about thinking on his feet.

Make tracks to see this unstoppable popcorn entertainment.

 

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