Tag Archives: Denzel Washington

Movies on TV…Unstoppable (Channel 4)

25 Feb

If you’re stuck at a signal point on the 7:15 from Peterborough to Kings Cross on a Monday morning it would be almost next to impossible to imagine a high-octane thriller featuring a high-speed runaway train.

If you transfer the scene to Pennsylvania, USA, swap the passenger train for a freight train loaded with highly volatile chemicals and bring in über action film director the late Tony Scott, then what you couldn’t image as your read your copy of The Metro for the 4th time becomes much closer to reality.

If Keanu Reeve’s blockbuster Speed was re-made by a train spotter, the result would be Unstoppable – a disaster movie about freight trains.

A somewhat unclear turn of events at the beginning of the film involving a train driver called Dewey (Ethan Suplee) saw a goods train laden with chemical left running without a driver, and the dead man switch all trains are supposed to be equipped with not functioning (a key plot point which again was not fully explained).

The result of this series of mishaps meant our accidental heroes Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and Wil Colson (Chris Pine) were called into action. Cue a fast paced thriller with the late Tony Scott’s trademark frenetic camera style As first Frank and Wil struggled to avoid the freight train they were driving colliding with the runaway train.

Then after that narrow escape from that head on collision, they quickly came to realise that the train company’s plan to stop the runaway train was a non starter and the train was heading towards the city of Stanton (population 700,000+ we were helpfully reminded). The only people who could save the town from disaster were, yes you gessed right,  Wil and Frank.

With disaster movies like this you pretty much know how it going to end, it is Hollywood after all. It is like driving with a SatNav you know where it is taking you, you just don’t how far from it will deviate from what you think is the route. We knew Wil and Frank were going to save the day, all that was in doubt was how close to disaster they go before the heroic finale.

Like many disaster movies that have gone  before it Unstoppable threadd a familiar path taking  us through edge of the seat tension, gritty determination of our heroes, several near mishaps and finally heroic triumph as our heroes boarded the runaway train and brought it to a halt.

In the process they both achieved the trademark personal redemption, Wil had fallen out with his wife and had a restraining order slapped on him and Frank somewhat less dramatically had forgotten his daughter’s birthday.

A masterpiece, no. An entertaining way to spend one and half hours, definitely.

Movies on TV….The Book of Eli (Channel 5)

24 Oct

The thing I find with Denzel Washington is he exudes earnestness. Pretty much any film he has been in he’s earnest.  In Cry Freedom he was an earnest Steve Biko, in Crimson Tide he was earnest Commander Hunter, in Training Day (bloody great film BTW) he was an earnest Lt. Alonzo. Sometimes he plays an earnestly good guy, sometimes he plays an earnestly bad guy, but earnest he is.

So we come to the Book of Eli, guess what? He is earnest. The film is a bit of a curiosity. Denzel’s character, Eli, can best be described as a mash up of the post-apocalyptic ruthlessness of Mel Gibson in Mad Max, the bible quoting menace of Samuel L Jackson in pulp fiction and the determined spiritual mission of Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings. Bizarre isn’t it

Eli was a man living in an America reduced to rubble in the aftermath of a nuclear war, He was commanded by a higher power to head west where he will deliver a book, the last bible in the world and it holds the key to man’s redemption.

Eli is not just an iterant bible nutter he is also a ruthless fighting machine, as an assortment of villains find out as they are ruthlessly dispatched. His main nemesis  Carnegie, is played by Gary Oldman, Mayor of a town along the route  going west who realises the power of the book and wants it for himself.

Carnegie initially entices Eli to stay in his residence with hospitality but Eli realises the danger and after a lot of mayhem escapes taking along Solara (Mila Kunis) a girl who lives in Carnegie’s home. Carnegie chases him down to a homestead in the middle of the desert where the showdown happens.

The homestead was occupied by an elderly couple, and lady of the house was none other than Frances De La Tour, who some may know as Mrs Jones from the 70’s TV comedy Rising Damp.  She was a bit of a man eater in the show back then, and it seems not much has changed as in this film she was also a man-eater except in a very literal sense. Her husband and she are machine gun wielding cannibals.

They team up with Eli to try and thwart Carnegie attempts to steal the bible. It all goes wrong Eli is shot and left for dead, the elderly couple killed, the bible stolen and Solara seized. Had the bad guys won? Get real, this is Hollywood.

The Bible was in braille and useless to Carnegie, it turns out Eli was blind.  Carnegie died from the injuries he had sustained. Solara escaped went back to homestead and revived a badly injured Eli and together they journeyed to San Francisco which apparently is the Promised Land.

It turns out Eli had memorised the entire bible and  he lived long enough to recite its entire content to a commune of monks with a printing press who produced thousands of bibles and presumably saved the world in the process.

I said it was bizarre.