Denzel Washington time and time again elevates the calibre of any film he touches. To employ the vernacular, “The guy really classes up the joint”. His portrayal of Frank, a no-bulls**t veteran Train Engineer in 2010’s “Unstoppable”, only serves to perpetuate this career-spanning capacity.
Washington is equal parts compelling and believable in this “based on actual events” story as an ordinary man thrust headlong into extraordinarily volatile circumstances as he struggles to stop a runaway and pilotless train of tankers filled with explosively flammable cargo. Frank is somewhat jaded and cynical, yes, and with fair reason, in light of the unseemly politics and the for-crap management, he has wrestled with over his decades of rock-solid service. It is consistently captivating to witness this fellow grapple with both the enormously stressful situation at hand and the incompetents who inhabit positions of leadership at his railway freight company.
Chris Pine is just fine as the new kid Engineer, Will, working his first day on the job with Frank. However, for my money, it isn’t anywhere near the authentically impressive performance he generates in the Oscar-nominated movie of last year “Hell or High Water”. In that role, Pine is really good, clearly far more mature and evolved as an actor. Here he merely more or less occupies a run-of-the-mill stock function.
And props are due Rosario Dawson, as well, who is staggeringly beautiful as always in a helluva turn as a tough-ass chick who bucks authority to do what is right rather than what most satisfies the corporate bottom line. Dawson’s character of Connie is strong, smart, savvy and, again, aesthetically stunning.
“Unstoppable” is a notch or two above your standard Popcorn Thrill Ride flick. But it almost certainly would not have been even this good were it not for the inimitable contributions of the wondrous Washington.