UNSTOPPABLE:

Throughout his career, director Tony Scott (TOP GUN, TRUE ROMANCE) has consistently championed style over substance. It’s an apt description of his newest work about a runaway train loaded with hazardous chemicals and the two railroad workers (Chris Pine, Denzel Washington) who try to chase it down. The editing from Robert Duffy and Chris Lebenzon give the movie a needed frenetic pace along with some excellent stunt work shot against the Pennsylvania rust belt setting. But the plot from screenwriter Mark Bomback is as thin as gas station toilet paper and moves from one narrow escape to another with some obligatory dialogue thrown in to tell you what’s going on in case you don’t know. Will the train hit another train full of school children ironically learning about railway safety? Will it strike the horse trailer stuck on the tracks? Will it negotiate a rapid turn on an elevated S track strategically located next to a bunch of fuel storage tanks? (Great urban planning there.) And why if this is such a potential disaster does everybody in the cities that the train goes through crowd around the railroad crossing to get a shot at either being contaminated or immolated? Add to this some unintentionally funny “play-by-play” descriptions from the various “fair and balanced” journalists from Fox News reporting things they couldn’t possibly know and you wind up with a movie that hopes you’re not thinking too much about all its plot holes. The two main characters engage in trite old school vs. new school conflicts and have domestic problems that come off as hazy and muddled. Even though only three runaway train movies come to my mind, one of which was called RUNAWAY TRAIN (1985), this one really seemed run-of-the-mill to me. CRITIC’S GRADE: C+

GOOD MOVIES TO WATCH DURING THE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAYS: ALICE’S RESTAURANT (1969), Any James Bond movie on Spike or other cable channel, AVALON (1990), BABETTE’S FEAST (1987), HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986), LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992), PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987)