(Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, et al / PG-13 / 106 mins)
Overview: Denzel Washington and Star Trek's Chris Pine star in this action thriller from director Tony Scott. The plot surrounds two locomotive operators who team up to stop a runaway train filled with explosives. Live Free or Die Hard's Mark Bomback provides the script for the 20th Century Fox production, co-starring Rosario Dawson.
Verdict: With a simple but powerful premise as the engine of this chase thriller, Tony Scott delivers a high tension escapist entertainment - without a villain. That's right; unlike Speed, where a crazed baddie sets up the booby trapped bus, the huge freight train that speeds towards potential disaster is the work of nothing more sinister than a careless engine driver (Ethan Suplee).
Human error is the villain and the film has a couple of those, making it an ideal training video for companies keen to instill a high quotient of quality control in their employees. Denzel Washington is suitably convincing as the veteran on the eve of forced early retirement. Chris Pine is excellent as the young rookie just out of training school who has to prove himself, with a hiccup in his marriage.
But these personal elements, while useful to give the characters dimension and context, are sidelined as the unmanned monster of a train heads towards a string of towns with its deadly, explosive chemical payload.
Scott and his editors Robert Duffy, Chris Lebenzon, make the most of the material, like a speeding freight train with a variety of threats in its path, including a trainload of children out to learn about safety on rails. They also make great use of news footage that adds intensity to the film's texture.
Roasario Dawson has the juicy role of handling the emergency in the central rail network control room. She has a hard headed boss, Galvin (Kevin Dunn) at HQ to deal with, whose solutions are either ineffective or worse. Washington and Pine are a good team and the dynamics of the nail biting story give theem room to be heroes without overdoing it.
Hard working cameras and huge sound design all add to the brawny and bellowing tone, with the machinery and steel wheels screeching, metal clanging and rails clattering. It's only at the end as your muscles relax that you realise how much cinematic voltage has been coursing through your body.