AN AUDIO SNAPSHOT REVIEW
Kirk Cameron’s Unstoppable is an hour-long documentary that tackles the difficult subject of why we experience pain and suffering. Motivated by the death of a teenage family friend, Kirk takes viewers back to the first family on the planet: Adam and Eve. From that biblical story and others, we’re reminded that the fall of man brought pain to the world. But where is God in all of it? How can Christ’s death, burial and resurrection make a difference in those deep, dark times of the soul?
Viewers will need to know that a couple of scenes are a bit gory—such as Abel’s murder in the story of Cain and Abel. But perhaps a bigger potential downside is how the issue of pain and suffering is handled. Let’s be frank here, this is a large and perplexing life question. And even Kirk admits that answers are hard to come by. For some people, just harking back to the fact that God is in control is going to be comforting. But others will be hoping for more answers than this film has to offer.
Frank and Will both have their share of relationship problems—Frank is feeling the heat after forgetting a daughter’s birthday and Will was recently slapped with a restraining order by his estranged wife. But as their story unfolds, it becomes apparent that these two guys love their families dearly. Frank tells Will that it’s never too late to try to patch things up. And they both reach out via cell phone and try to express their feelings several times.
Mostly, though, the big positive here is the tiny little fact that these two train-running he-men risk life and limb trying to save the lives of thousands of people they’ve never met.
Frank’s two (adult) daughters both work at a Hooters restaurant. We see several quick shots of them and other servers dressed in the chain’s signature formfitting T-shirts and short shorts. When Frank calls his daughters at home we also catch quick glimpses of scantily clad dancers in a TV music video.
A female rail line exec wears a formfitting top. And Will’s wife gets out of bed dressed in a cleavage-baring tank top. Wearing only a pair of briefs, Will crashes on a friend’s couch.
Unstoppable is chockablock with high-action danger as numerous leaping and high-speed attempts are made to stop the runaway train. And as the megatonic rocket speeds down the tracks, it smashes through a number of obstacles in its path.
For example, a truck accidentally broadsides a large horse trailer onto the tracks and ranchers hurriedly get their animals out—just seconds before the runaway obliterates the trailer. The same sort of thing happens to another train’s boxcar. And an engineer is killed when his engine is rammed off the tracks and explodes in a ball of fire. Large cuffs are installed on the tracks to derail the hurtling train, but as the front locomotive rips through the derailer, chunks of metal shoot outward to lacerate and tear apart nearby police cars.
In a few up-close moments the rending becomes more personal. An attempt is made to lower an engineer to the cab of the runaway lead engine, but while still attached to a hovering helicopter, he’s flipped back to the second locomotive, smashing its windshield. (He’s rendered unconscious.) A conductor falls and has his foot smashed in the large steel connecting knuckle between trains. After extracting himself, we see his bloodied and ripped shoe.
One f-word and over a dozen s-words. Five to 10 uses each of “a‑‑,” “h‑‑‑” and “b‑‑ch.” God’s and Jesus’ names are misused over a dozen times. A hefty portion of those times God’s name is combined with “d‑‑n.” And obscene gesture is made.
Customers have beer and mixed drinks at a Hooters restaurant.
Railroad company executives are portrayed as being more concerned about the bottom line than they are the public’s safety.
Inspired by a true story, Unstoppable never swerves from its primary destination: thrilling audiences with the tale of an unmanned train leaving the yard under a full head of steam and rushing to deliver a ticking time bomb to a paralyzed populace. Through 100 minutes of screen time, the tension continues to ratchet ever higher as our two likeable, average-guy heroes struggle to find a way to stop a million tons of hurtling steel and explosives. It’s a straightforward white-knuckler that plays to every single one of Denzel Washington’s old-school movie star strengths.
“This movie has pace, momentum and fear … more than any movie I’ve ever done,” director Tony Scott said in a traileraddict.com interview. “It’s what I call an edge of the seat movie”
He’s not kidding. If it weren’t for the niggling little detail that just about every pulse-pounding scene is marred by profanity, this would be one of the greater action pics of the decade.
I suppose all that four-letter dialogue and the scenes at Hooters were added in hopes of communicating a sense of workman realism and/or strained anxiety. But in fact the crassness only serves to distract, like a loose and constantly squeaking wheel. And it derails any fun a family audience might have had.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.