This film is a very very safe film. Call it a cliche if you will. The oft used formula of mentor protege, the crisis center where everyone had an earpiece, eyes glued to screen, and cheering and applauding even if they actually did nothing, and a corporate mumbo jumbo big shot to aim the viewer’s rage to. But damn, this feel good film is pretty good. I love the interaction between Chris Pine and Denzel Washington here, and the aforementioned corporate mumbo jumbo big shot is perfectly fit the criteria of being the hated man for the whole film. The action parts meant to be thrilling and suspenseful when it happened, also quite deftly delivered. In short, if you remembered “Speed” in the 90s and had liked it, you’ll find no problem to like this film.
It’s Will Colson’s (Chris Pine) first day at the office and he is paired with the veteran of twenty-eight years, Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). I’m not familiar with their line of work but it seems to involve steering a train from point A to point B. Will and Frank, as to what would usually happened when you paired a rookie and a veteran, started their relationship on a wrong foot. Meanwhile, some stereotyped clumsy fellow employee had let loose a train full of inflammable and highly toxic material on a full throttle. This train needs to get stopped before the track would eventually gave the train away to the law of physics and toppled over. It is, as Connie Hopper (Rosario Dawson) says in the trailer, “A missile the size of Chrysler Building.”
I personally thought that trains are scary. It ranks pretty high within my list of sort-of phobias, just below flying, drowning, and clowns. From my point of view, trains, from its construction, its rails, its wheels, everything, are all metals. And the sounds that it made? Equally, even probably more, terrifying. This film has plenty of shots to accentuate that sound effect. Shots from below and front of the train as it roars by are plenty and I believe it’s true to most viewers, gave me shivers and plenty of reason to get excited.
Tony Scott did quite well in this film. This is his second train films in a row (after “The Taking of Pelham 123”) but this time, the antagonist is a driver-less moving train. His shots were effective, often circling around the cockpit where Will and Frank resides, to gave us viewers the sense of urgency, or from a news footage to gave us an aerial shot from the train. Denzel Washington is at his usual self, his presence is domineering and Chris Pine, good enough to know his place as his sidekick. All in all, even if they are not entirely special, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine brought themselves pretty fine in this film.
In truth, the action stuffs weren’t that much. More and more it was just sights of train coming at you with a deafening roar. In fact, as I wrote this review and tried to remember what had happened, the times when the trains colliding with another object was about thrice or four times and that’s why, because I had enjoyed it immensely, the action stuffs were effective in teasing and eventually shown.
My rating: **1/2 / **** – Pretty damn good feel good film. Exciting action scenes, likeable characters. My problem was that each characters had some sort of back-story that I’m not feeling them as important or as prominent as the entire point of the film. But that’s a minor annoyance.