Film, Action and adventure
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
Tony Scott obviously buys into the old Orson Welles adage about cinema being ‘the biggest electric train set a boy ever had’. He follows his ‘Taking of Pelham 1 2 3’ remake with this much better action flick showcasing an even bigger hunk of rolling stock. After a snarl-up at the yard, this half-mile-long freight-hauling baby starts trundling along the rails on its own, gathering momentum through leafy Pennsylvania towards a dangerous curve where its payload of explosive chemicals promise a preview of the apocalypse.

On the same tracks, a bunch of kiddies on a school trip, and another shunting engine where wily old engineer Denzel Washington is showing hot-shit new-boy Chris Pine the ropes. They’ll all be Jello if they get in the way, but letting the beast through is no solution either…

You’ll look in vain for the metaphysical overlay Akira Kurosawa and Andrey Konchalovsky brought to a not dissimilar set-up in ‘Runaway Train’ (1985), but this is nuts-and-bolts suspense cinema at its slickest. Scott, his multi-camera crew and gifted editor don’t need 3D or even much CGI to convince us of the destructive potential of this big bad boy and sustain the tension effectively as fearful controller Rosario Dawson and unfolding TV news coverage fill in the necessary exposition.

If you’re nit-picking, the personal issues batted between Washington and Pine in the cab feel decidedly formulaic, and the movie does peak in intensity around the two-thirds mark. Yet ultimately the pleasure is boyishly simple: very big train hits stuff. Bish bash bosh. Job done. Great fun.

By: Trevor Johnston



Release details

Release date:
Friday November 12 2010
98 mins

Cast and crew

Tony Scott
Mark Bomback
Denzel Washington
Chris Pine
Rosario Dawson
Ethan Suplee
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