In 1985, an excellent action film called RUNAWAY TRAIN was released with the most bizarre of pedigrees. It was written by Japanese master Akira Kurosawa, directed by Russian director Andrei Konchalovsiy, and produced by schlock-meisters Golan and Globus. (I later worked with Menahem Golan on several low budget films early in my career.) The film starred Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay. It was one of those rare action films that was actually much more than an action film and was instead an art film disguised as an action film.
UNSTOPPABLE is instead an action film and nothing more. That said, once the action gets underway in the second act, it really does keep your attention. Unfortunatley, the script appears to be a series of outtakes from action films whose directors decided the dialogue and characters were just too cliched to be included in their films. The film does make for a good drinking game; every time someone does something you've seen in another bad film, take a drink. You won't make it to the end of act one. It's like an encyclopedia of bad writing. Need more exposition? How about a cell phone call explaining it?
The film did have excellent sound design, and it get nominated for the Oscar this morning, which was well deserved. The basic story idea, a train running out of control into a densely populated small town, gives enough tension to watch through the end, and the film is lucky to have two good actors in the lead roles to carry many of the weaker moments.
But unfortunately I spent way too much time thinking that I should watch RUNAWAY TRAIN again. At least I was reminded to add that film to my Netflix queue.