Reviewed on 2011 March 16
This is based on a real-life incident that took place in Ohio. The movie piled on the drama, but it’s actually a heavily padded version of the “Crazy Eights” CSX 8888 train incident. I know some reviewers wanted more in terms of plot and depth, but I just enjoyed it for what it was and wished I had some popcorn.
Through a series of events — that you, gentle viewer, can use as perspective the next time your boss screams at you for something petty like running out of copy machine toner — a behemoth train roars out of the rail yard, unmanned, picking up speed and laden with tanks of enough toxic chemicals to mutate the entire state of Pennsylvania into giant sea monkeys. The thing barrels along, getting faster by the minute and zooming towards cities filled with the classic Irwin Allen ratio of people, kittens, and fuel tanks waiting to be ruptured. None of the measures to stop the train seem to be working until two employees, veteran Frank (Denzel Washington) and Will (Chris Pine), a newcomer with a chip on his shoulder, come up with a last-ditch plan to stop it, only to be vetoed by management (Kevin Dunn).
According to this article, director Tony Scott talked to one of the men who solved the real-life crisis, and then went Roland Emerich on the story. Luckily he didn’t go full Emerich, so despite the ladling on of DANGER it wasn’t completely ridiculous. I thought the abrupt placement of the hip-hop song over the end credits was jarring and didn’t fit the rest of the movie, but that’s my biggest gripe. The friction between the yard chief Connie (Rosario Dawson) and her boss Oscar (Dunn) was well done. There are few things more frustrating than trying to solve a problem and being thwarted by someone more interested in being right.
Three chocolate morsels. It’s a big entertaining nail-biter, and we haven’t had one of those in a while.