Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Running off the formula Speed introduced and perfected more than 15 years ago, Tony Scott's latest seizure-inducing action romp has Denzel Washington as a veteran train engineer racing against the clock with his rookie partner to stop a rouge train from destroying the entire state of Pennsylvania.

At least that's the way the characters make it sound. This train, despite not having a conductor, is running lose on a main track and consistently gaining speed. If it isn't stopped, it will devastate the small town of Stanton. 

Oh, and the train is hauling thousands of pounds of explosive chemicals. Duh.

I do not know the first thing about how to conduct or engineer a train. What I do know a little about, however, is local news media coverage. And it is from that basis that I plan to discredit this farce of a film.

Where to begin. Ten minutes after the train is off and running, the local news media are reporting every single detail of the incident. Hell, they even have a mug shot of the dope responsible for the whole thing. This is utter bullshit. There is no way in hell a small town news organization would have every detail of an event like this 10 minutes after it took place, let alone a mug shot of the idiot behind it. How did they get his picture? Employment records for train engineers aren't public record. Who even told the press this guy was responsible? They just... know.

The reporters constantly say they are receiving their information from the press liaison for the train company. Again, utter bullshit. Press officers, especially ones for modes of public transportation, do not divulge every single nasty detail to the press about how the company they work for is about to kill thousands of people. Doesn't happen.

In once scene, the train rams a horse trailer that is standing idly on the track. Several residents and one news crew is there to witness it. After the collision, we see it again on TV. Then again, from another angle, then again from yet another angle. But there was only one news camera there, not three. How did three different news channels get a different shot of the same crash, when only one was present? Hmmm.

In another scene, a train worker tries to move his small train in front of the unstoppable train and slow it down. A news chopper zooms in on the guy and then a mug shot of him appears on screen. Nope, can't happen. Not even CNN uses good enough quality video cameras to produce a still shot from a moving helicopter of a guy on a moving train. Ever heard of lens exposure rates? 

And how about those damn choppers. At least one news chopper stays with the train throughout the duration of the entire film. Filming it for the viewing audience to watch. Yet, at any given time, there are multiple shots of the train during a climatic event, taken from a helicopter, from several different angles. So... four helicopter shots of the same moment displayed on TV, but only one helicopter is present. Were there invisible helicopters?

I'm being too hard on this movie, I know. And the only reason for this is because it touts the "based a true story" bit as a badge of honor. Hell, we're even given title cards at the end of the movie telling us what the main characters are now doing.

How can a movie based on a true story get so many facts wrong? And why even throw in the media coverage as part of the movie's narrative? It doesn't help it in any way.

Oh well. Tony Scott's latest films (which should be slapped with a warning urging epileptics to stay away) clearly appeal to action film aficionados. I liked Man on Fire a lot, a whole lot, actually. But once was enough. Move on. You made True Romance, dude. You can do better. As can Denzel, for that matter. D


  1. This was stupid and generic as all hell (and it is by no means a good movie) but damn if I didn't love every second of it lol.

    1. Ha fair enough. Tony Scott knew how to make an insanely fun action romp.