Available this week on DVD and Blu-ray: Denzel Washington and Chris Pine star in the runaway train thriller, Unstoppable; plus a look at Woody Allen’s latest comedy, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, starring Antonio Banderas and Josh Brolin.
From Top Gun to the recent remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Tony Scott has always proven that he can make legends of what are usually blue collar heroes. Yes, his brother may get more respect, but Tony Scott is one dependable action director, as he proves in the edge-of-your-seat thriller, Unstoppable.
Scott’s latest thriller stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pine as Frank and Will, an engineer and a conductor who find themselves with a tough choice to make. Assigned to work together for the first time, the unlikely pair are uneasy companions who have a hard time finding common ground until they discover they are on the same track as a runaway train that’s headed straight for them. Making matters worse is the fact that the train is filled with gasoline and a very toxic chemical.
With no one on board the oncoming train, the two workers decide it’s up to them to find a way to avert disaster and keep the speeding train from derailing, but it will be tough as they have to race to not only stop it, but also find a way to hitch to it without crashing.
Based on real-life events, which Scott and screenwriter Mark Bomback have rather faithfully rendered with a bit of extra zeal and flourish, Unstoppable takes you on a fast ride through rural America with clever attention to all the important details. These two railway men have just enough back-story to make them interesting, with their tales of sad family problems, but these stories prove to be little more than backdrops for what is otherwise straight-forward thriller territory. All Scott wants is for you to pay attention to this train and how the story will play out, and if you’re like me and didn’t know the real story behind the events, it’s all the better as you debate if these two men will be heroes or tragic victims.
Since Scott is such a solid director with this exact kind of linear story, it’s easy to get suckered into the momentum of the plot, and really, what else could we ask for?
Unlike his brother, Ridley Scott, most of Tony Scott’s films are honestly not what you would call the stuff of filmmaking legend, aside from maybe Top Gun, which is a classic 1980s film, but his work is also usually anything but predictable, and that’s head and shoulders above most directors working today.
Speaking of legendary filmmakers, they don’t come much bigger than Woody Allen, but if his latest film is any indication, that status is getting a little tarnished.
Featuring a strong cast, that includes Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, and Anthony Hopkins, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is another drole comedy about a family and their complicated love lives. Between a call girl, a fortune teller, an art gallery owner, and one mystery woman, the family is looking for love in all directions, except for with each other.
Scorned by most critics, Peter Howell of the Toronto Star called the film “Over-written and under-realized,” adding that, “it’s Allen in desultory word-processor mode, barely able to muster even his usual amount of resigned cynicism about this crazy ol’ life.”
Not every critic agreed though, and Peter Schilling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune was one of the few critics who praised Allen and the film. “At once a cynical examination of infidelity and a sweet love story that rewards good people, Stranger is thoroughly entertaining,” he wrote, “and Allen’s best film since Crimes and Misdemeanors.”