This film gave me a migraine.  I’m very glad I saw it on the small screen, not the big one.

I usually like Tony Scott’s films.  He doesn’t make great films, but they’re usually flashy enough to be fun to watch, and I can usually appreciate his intriguing choice of camera angles if I can’t appreciate the missing character development or the abysmal dialogue.  Knowing what I was in for, I took a healthy dose of aspirin before we popped in the DVD.  It helped a little, but not enough.

With Unstoppable, my interest in Scott’s fluidly spiraling camera movements only lasted an hour.  After that, I kept thinking to myself, “Oh get on with it.”

I never saw any trailers for the film.  Never really paid attention to any synopses.  All I knew about the film ahead of time was that it was directed by Tony Scott and starred Denzel Washington.  And Chris Pine, my daughter kept reminding us.  And it’s about some sort of runaway train.  So … safe assumption then that every attempt to stop said train will fail until Washington & Pine figure out a way to catch up to it.  Yep.  Which in turn makes potentially exciting set pieces boring because we know how they’re going to turn out, which ends up with me thinking to myself, “Oh get on with it” that much more.

I honestly could not care less about Pine’s character’s domestic problems.  It was all totally irrelevant, seemingly stuffed into the script as some sort of half-assed attempt at character development.  Maybe it would make a difference if his wife and son were actually developed as characters … but no.  Oh get on with it.

And every time I was almost getting caught up in the story, we jumped to fake Fox news coverage of the impending disaster, which ripped me right out of it again.  Given the exaggerated descriptions of what would happen if the train went kablooey, would reporters and news helicopters actually be that close to the action?  I understand that good reporters will do whatever they can to nail the story, but stoopidly standing or hovering well within skin-melting fireball range (along with scores of police officers and fire fighters)?  They’re frequently close enough to be hit by the passing train long before they’re roasted in the hellacious fireball of doom.  This totally undermined my suspension of disbelief.  They talk about various evacuations … yet the townspeople are all still out there, gawking at Satan’s locomotive of death as it races towards them.  Yep … again, oh get on with it.

I can’t help thinking there must be some kind of fantastically tense R-rated director’s cut out there somewhere, and maybe the studio demanded that Scott cut it down to deliver a PG-13 rating and insert the Fox news bits as blatant marketing of their own network.  It feels like there’s a good 30 minutes or more missing from the film.  This could have been a Hitchcock-level masterpiece of suspense … but no.

I hear Runaway Train is supposed to be good.  I should track that down as a comparison.

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