What happens when an unstoppable force meets two courageous men?!?
20th Century Fox in association with Scott Free Productions, Prospect Park, Millbrook Farm Productions and Dune Entertainment present…
In memory of Director Tony Scott.
The opening scene was filled with images of the Yards and trains combined with its eerie background sounds make it look like a horror story! So here we are prepping up the cast, setting in motion key specific characters that would give “life” to the locomotive and its trail of destruction! This is what I appreciate with the Scott siblings, details are always inclined which is fundamental in the storytelling like locations and dates properly setting up the ambiance for the audience to grasp multi-angle scenarios.
The catalyst was inspired from real events that occurred in Ohio wherein a CSX 8888 Freight Train also known as the “Crazy Eights” incident back in 2001 from which 20th Century Fox capitalized and as they initially tapped Martin Campbell but later left due to production and financial problems. But they found another more equipped Director for the job! This was the last film the Director Tony Scott (Top Gun) together with a remarkable Writer Mark Bomback (Die Hard 4.0) who made this a truly entertaining premise!
In the film, everyone has a phone call to take which was essentially redundant but needed to relay and inform people to take their jobs more seriously! A rookie who has family issues, a man who forgot his daughter’s birthday, a Yard Officer who calls the shots to get her subordinates to move their ass on the double! On a similar note, like most thrillers they implicate scenarios that need rhetorical questions coming out from the conversation in order to make it more surreal, the energy and the urgency which the dialogue implicates provides enough gut wrenching tension which makes it more ideal to watch!
In another front, the film raises issues about not just accidents happening in the transportation industry but rather to those who are employed to work in these SMEs’ or by huge corporations. While in contrast, instilling the need to have a secure job to help support their respective families it gives light to the implications of labor problems, redundancies and layoffs that affects the livelihood of millions of people across the country and the world.
Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington (Courage Under Fire) is veteran Railroad Engineer from AWVR (Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad) Frank Barnes bitter but gracious trying to keep his job and support his two daughters who are even trying to support their own education by waitressing.
The Director have so much faith in him that he already starred in 5 films making their partnership an unforgettable tandem for Hollywood and Studios to always make a way to capitalize! Nevertheless, who can even question the acting prowess of Mr. Washington himself?
Trains are set in a collision course which carries children, molten phenol, train cars for pick-up and a cargo load of guilt and incompetence coming from a couple of employees. Ethan Suplee (Open Range) as Dewee a Holster working with his “partner in crime” Gileece played by T.J. Miller (Cloverfield) they both made the story realize its ends through “what you reap is what you sow”!
Fast rising actor and soon to be CIA Agent Jack Ryan is Chris Pine (Just My Luck) he portrays a newly hired Will Colson coming in as a Conductor under the wing of Frank. He got his own problems to deal with further convoluting his role, having a mano-y-mano with a heavyweight like Denzel. His acting provides another set piece in his repertoire having seen that he can do comedy from previous projects while traversing into action and drama makes him a an ideal candidate for lead actor in the future!
What will a film be if there are no women to take a stand, some would be a damsel in distress, others will just be a plain squeeze for the hero, supporting roles are underrated but not with Rosario Dawson (Welcome to the Jungle) she is Fuller Station Yardmaster Connie Hooper is spot on for her role strong, determined and steadfast! She spearheads her staff to be on full alert finding the best solution to stop the runaway train from causing further damage, she even contests the decisions of the VP that allows her to become a significant model not just from her subordinates but with the populace as well.
Kevin Dunn (Transformers) as Fuller Operations VP Oscar Galvin, maybe he can ask the Autobots to help talk to their fellow comrade unless it’s a Decepticon that would make it weird! Can you blame the guy? He’s keeping his business and making sure it’s running smoothly (right) while he sits in a posh office on top of a high rise building while conversing with big shots playing golf, the people under his company is doing everything they can to save lives from an inevitable catastrophe!
I don’t mind if there was no in depth character development stating the obvious that the film comprises of very talented people but the main thing was, it focused on a far more “tangible” reason than the actual screenplay for example the lives of people, the experience of having a runaway train, the danger that it may bring to a densely populated town is all in the right position and it amalgamated into this fantastic thriller of a ride film!
Cinematography by Ben Seresin was absolute clear and clean every shot from the town and its landscapes to the rampaging train gives it levity for the viewers to encapsulate and experience! To add, Music was conveyed Harry Gregson-Williams that gives pulse pounding input to every set, dialogue and debris from the train that is running amok!
Like the actual train wreck, the film had financial overturns making Fox request the lead actor and Director to make some sacrifices in terms of their compensation and it still proved volatile for anyone to stop. So the answer to my question upfront is…no need for capes here, a town is secured and thousands of lives are grateful to these heroes in the real world and so another story was told in the eyes and mind of one of the greats in cinema! With prayers and condolences to Director Anthony David Scott and to his family. May he rest in peace!