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Time Out New York Project: Issue #790, November 18-24, 2010
Dir. Tony Scott. 2010. PG-13. 98mins. Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson.
Tony Scott’s sins are legion (try saying Days of Thunder or Domino without twitching), but perhaps we can forgive him for his latest feature’s false advertising. The runaway train that blue-collar Pennsylvania rail-workers Frank (Washington) and Will (Pine) attempt to halt with all their gruff might does indeed prove to be stoppable, though it takes a good hour and a half to achieve that more-than-obvious outcome. It’s fairly surprising, then, that monotony doesn’t set in the moment Disposable Fat Guy (Ethan Suplee) clumsily loses the loco and Hot Chick at the Microphone (Dawson) starts barking orders. What’s up with that?
Scott’s unrelentingly shaky images (call it vomit-cam) and eardrum-shattering sound design are still present and accounted for. But in a multiplex littered with gaseous 3-D monstrosities, the perspective-flattening style now seems downright classical. The hack is unwittingly becoming an old master; can a reevaluative retrospective be far off? It helps, of course, that the cast is across-the-board strong, the story is streamlined to its bare essentials (no room for a Bruce Weber–inspired homoerotic volleyball game, Tone?) and the stunt work appears more actual than digital. But let’s give credit where it’s due: Scott’s on his A-game — as opposed to, ugh, Spy Game — for this occasionally exhilarating piece of popcorn cinema.—Keith Uhlich
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