Unstoppable was a decent action film. It was greatly helped by the likability of its two stars, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. I appreciate it for it’s simple, entertaining plot, which is reminiscent of such 90’s action classics like Speed and Die Hard. I wouldn’t put it in the same league as those two, but it’s an admirable effort.
If you’ve read my reviews, you’ll know I try not to complain too much about obvious popcorn action movies, as long as they achieve what they set out to do: entertain. This is why I approved of Sucker Punch, and despised Battle: Los Angeles. Unstoppable achieved its goal of being entertaining, so I tip my hat to it for that. I do feel it missed some opportunities in the suspense department though.
This is mostly due to the camera work. I’ve been reading a ton of stuff about Hitchcock recently, so I’ve noticed myself keeping an eye out for where the camera is placed in certain scenes and why. Hitchcock talked a lot about the benefits of getting up close and personal in some instances, and why sometimes it’s better to back up and give a wide, unobtrusive view of things.
This is where I feel Unstoppable stumbled. There were some moments that could have been extremely tense and exciting for the audience, but due to the camera placement we felt left out. The biggest example I noticed was when Denzel Washington’s character was jumping from car to car in an attempt to get to the front of a speeding train. This would be scary as hell… for the person jumping. For the uninvolved observer watching from 100 feet away, we don’t feel the intensity at all. By placing the camera in the nearby helicopters and following trucks, we don’t get the full effect of the danger he is in, therein zapping almost all tension out of the scene. If the camera had been from Denzel’s point of view, we as the audience would have been on the edge of our seats. As it was, we felt like nothing but an uninvolved viewer watching from the safety of our television sets at home.
There were many other suspenseful moments in the film, particularly when the camera did get up close and personal. I was just disappointed the few times I felt an opportunity was missed. All in all however, Unstoppable was a decent popcorn flick that more or less hit its target.