Saturday, 21 March 2009

Unstoppable



UNSTOPPABLE (2004)

Directed by: David Carson
Written by: Tom Vaughn
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Jacqueline Obradors, Kim Coates & Stuart Wilson

Unstoppable is actually (despite rampant internet bashing) one of Snipes’ better direct-to-DVD action films. It’s a solid, often tense, paranoid action thriller that manages to engage despite a whole lot of absurdness taking place. Snipes is your typical Ex-Special Ops kind of dude who happens to get caught up in Stuart Wilson’s barmy military experiment. They mistake him for a CIA agent investigating their nefarious plans and inject him with some kind of crazy drug that sends Snipes bonkers and makes him think he is reliving the traumatic death of his best friend, before he finally comes around enough so he can kick some butt and find an antidote. Like I said: absurdness.



However, despite a plot that takes in all kinds of shifty military experiments; Snipes spending most of the movie hallucinating; an insane set piece with an exploding tanker and, well, various other absurd twists and turns, Unstoppable is taught action fare. A kind of cross between The Fugitive and The Manchurian Candidate, Unstoppable manages an intriguing blend of tense paranoia thriller and silly action fluff. The pace rarely slackens and tension is well maintained mainly due to bad guys Stuart Wilson and Kim Coates. They are a little better rounded and more sinister than typical action movie villains with Wilson (Lethal Weapon 3) providing requisite bite as the rogue CIA bad guy. Snipes does his action hero thing and spends most of the movie drugged up, not knowing whether what he is seeing is real or not.



The action is fairly slick as well, the aforementioned over-the-top gas tanker bit looking like a set piece (albeit with much shoddier CGI) from a much bigger film. Better though is the tense ambush in a dinner and a great sequence where Snipes’ character is escaping a locked down hospital. However, he thinks he is escaping from an enemy hideout from several years ago. This means the scene cuts between what is happening in Snipes’ head and what is really happening. It’s flawlessly done and a unique set piece for a smaller film.

Crazy at times it may be, though that is all part of the fun, Unstoppable is passable action fodder thanks to a novel premise and direction that, rightly, refuses to take the standard action movie road.

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