6 April 2015

Great Scott!

Tony Scott is a bit like my old pet rabbit. I didn't know how much I loved either of them until the day they committed suicide. Obviously they chose different methods to end their own life but I guess the result was still the same. In fact, my rabbit’s death was more of a metaphorical tribute to Marlon Brando's career, if we're being completely honest. He got old, fat and lazy, refused to move, started shitting himself and eventually got maggots up his arse and died. But the fact remains that from the day that both my rabbit and Tony Scott concluded their story, I realised I was going to miss them. Previously I'd dismissed Scott as being the director of mostly dumb action films, which he obviously was. However this isn't a reason to dismiss him, it's a reason to celebrate him. I don't know if you've noticed but life is fucking shit! Let me summarise our human existence for you... It goes, birth, stress, stress, stress, stress, stress, death. It's why millionaire directors jump off bridges, why cute little rabbits shit themselves to death, and why I'm so grateful for dumb action movies. At the end of a long hard week I think that a pizza and a film that doesn't require my brain is the best way to relax. Well either that or a blow job, but I'm single, a geek and unlike DVDs I sadly can't buy blow jobs off Amazon.com.

Anyway, so it just so happens that Scott's last film before checking out was Unstoppable and I watched it the other day. It's meant to be a drama about an empty and runaway, speeding train but what's so bad about that? The worst thing about public transport is that it's never on time and when it is, it's full of crack-heads and so this sounds ideal to me. Sadly the authorities don't see it like this and so attempt to get things under control, simply because it's likely to plough into other trains, derail and happens to be carrying toxic chemicals! But who cares about toxic chemicals? If movies have taught me anything, it's that they won't hurt you... they give you superpowers! Meanwhile, it’s Chris Pines first day on the job with him having been partnered with the rookie train-man, Denzel Washington. I actually saw Washington as a pilot in Flight the other day so this seems a bit of a demotion for him. That's planes and trains sorted but for the sake of completion does anybody know of any films where his job is to drive an automobile? I asked my Dad if he could think of one and he said Driving Miss Daisy. Turns out I'm the spawn of a racist. So yeah, train goes fast, nobody can stop it, I wonder if the two famous people might end up playing a vital role in the situation? I hate to ruin the end of the movie but unless you think it concludes with the train doing laps around the world forever, then the title is a lie.

So is this film any good? Nope. Not really. Like the average child, it's not that it's completely intolerable but rather that neither is it anything special. Beyond anything it's clichéd to fuck! The two main characters literally bicker because one is on his first day and the other is heading towards forced retirement. Replace their trains with police cars and suddenly you have every buddy movie ever! Do you think they might find a mutual respect for one another by the end? Obviously. Will they do what they clearly want to do and violently suck each other off? Obviously not. If this film had any sense of humour it would have ended in the same way as North By North West. Washington and Pine would look at each other, smile, draw the curtains and then we'd cut to a train going into a tunnel. Oh well. Unstoppable is so lacking in originality that you could predict its three acts from looking at the picture on the DVD box and then having somebody kick you in the head. It's loud, dumb and sticks so closely to a formula that even an alleged charlatan like Psychic Sally Morgan could predict where things are going, without having to resort to her usual devious tricks.

However... As true as that all is, here's another response to that exact question. Is this film any good? Yes it fucking is. It's fucking insane!! I mean, obviously it's shit, but it's so much fun at the same time. The plot and characters might be predictable and clichéd but its execution is like being stabbed in the tits with a shot of adrenalin. This film is so over the top in its depiction of a run-away train that I defy anybody to watch it with friends and not spend most of the running time laughing. It's like a cartoon in that things continually escalate in terms of pace, danger and action as the situation goes from stupid to worse. Think you're just getting a speeding train? Bollocks! You're getting speeding trains, derailed trains, trains playing chicken, and basically any kind of dangerous train scenario you can think of. Oh and if you were worried that you wouldn't also get at least one exploding helicopter then worry no more! It's like watching a psychopathic episode of Thomas The Tank Engine as it plays out in the fevered nightmares of a dying crack-head.

However, I should say that although Unstoppable might be a bit dumb I don't mean it in the sense that The Fast And The Furious films are. I mean they're just fucking ridiculous whereas this film at least has some basis in reality. It has one huge fault which is its slightly dull script, however to make up for this its one huge selling point is the kinetic insanity of Tony Scott. Had this been a Michael Bay movie it'd have been three hours long and full of CG. Thankfully though, it was in fact made by a man with more directorial talent than that of a rotten lump of cheese under a clump of ridiculous hair. As a result, the running time is only around ninety minutes and it's clear that the majority of stunts have been done practically. At the speed the film moves at and as long as you're in the right frame of mind then there really isn't much chance to get bored in that time! In terms of its presentation I think this is a really well made film and I hope I haven't given the impression that it's so bad, it's good because that's not true. Rather that it's good enough to be good but just not quite good enough to be actually good... If that makes sense?

There are obviously films that are made for different situations and for people when they're in various moods. If you're Mum died today due to her unstoppable addiction to bestiality then perhaps it might not be such a good time to suggest watching Zoolander. If you're having a romantic night in with your new partner then maybe avoid Nil By Mouth or Schindlers List. If however, you've had a fairly shitty week, happen to be with friends and want something that doesn't ask too much of you in return then Unstoppable is for you! This isn't a film that will go down in history alongside Citizen Kane and The Godfather, however that's not to say that it isn't also kind of special in its own little way. To put it in terms of Scott's own career I'd say that this obviously isn't as legitimately good as True Romance, but is certainly on par with something as crass but fun as Man On Fire. You know it's unoriginal and forgettable, but it's so none-stop that it's hard to not get caught up in its screaming bullshit and simply laugh with delight. This is by no means my favourite film of all time and having seen it twice now, as a stand-alone piece of cinema it literally means nothing to me. However as the very last film from Tony Scott, it is a rare nugget of celluloid crassness that should be treasured forever. I would never get excited about his next film when he was making them, but now that he's gone there doesn't seem to be anybody with his credibility to take his place. He was the Michael Mann of the slightly rubbish but still brilliant action genre and he's already missed. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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