A train leaves one part of Pennsylvania with 39 cars traveling under full power, slowly getting up to speed. Another train leaves the other side of Pennsylvania, traveling at another speed. At what point do they meet?*
Frank (Denzel Washington) is an experienced train engineer. He is paired up with a newbie, Will (Chris Pine). Will (who had recently returned from military duty…of course) is apparently in some sort of custody battle with an ex. They never really get much into that story. Will is the conductor, meaning it is his responsibility to make sure they have the right cars. He accidentally gets two too many. This is realized when they are well underway.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, Dewey (Ethan Suplee) jumps off a large train to switch tracks, so it doesn’t go where a group of visiting school children are. He’s a larger man, so he can’t quite run fast enough. And he left it running (the train version of cruise control) so he doesn’t have to try to stop it and then back up. When the train heads down the wrong track, he, of course, can’t catch up to the train to get back on. This leaves his train barreling down the tracks, unmanned.
Now the train version of “air traffic control” must find a way to stop the runaway before it can cause an accident, spilling its hazardous cargo (of course it’s hazardous…) on some innocent town. When they fail to stop it, Frank and Will decide to try to stop it themselves.
The movie takes the pace of a train moving out of the station. Slow and plodding. Only it never quite gets up to speed. And the story seems disjointed. The only leeway I will give to this movie is that it is based on real events.
That’s it. There is no real redeeming quality to this film. It most certainly isn’t as action-packed and thrilling as the trailers would have you believe. It had nothing to keep my interest. I barely sat through it.
For some reason, the critics seemed to love it. I don’t know why. I waited the whole movie for something to happen. Some twist or revelation in the custody case. Some action. Something. Anything. My only thought was, “This has to be a true story.” I was hoping someone hadn’t come up with this idea on their own and then convinced a studio to produce it.
Unless you have some weird obsession with trains and train crashes, skip this movie. Trust me. It’s not worth the time. If watching movies based on true stories is your thing, well, there are simply better choices.
The title is misleading. Press the stop button. (If you made it past the opening credits, it’s too late.)
*Somewhere between Allentown and Boringville.