Who would have though Tony Scott could pull hard on the reigns and actually control his artistic excesses to such a wonderful outcome. Don't give me that look. It really deserves the 90% Entertainment Factor. Sure, it's sort of brainless, but hear me out.
Denzel Washington and Chris Pine star as two railway workers who find themselves to be the only hope of stopping a runaway train running at full speed, loaded with highly flammable toxic substances. Based on a true story, the movie takes facts and turns them into spectacular entertainment. Scott uses his trademark explosive visual style, propulsive musical score and booming sound effects and throws them at us in (for the first time ever) a coherent manner.
This is in essence an ode to the hard working american, the anonymous hero, but it never sinks in any kind of pathetic cheesiness. Instead it hooks us into a non-stop thrill ride of sound and fury, that starts out fast and never lets go until the very end. Sure, the action sometimes comes close to implausibility, but the excellent cinematography and sound design (nominated for a Sound Editing Oscar) help the movie achieve perfection. The train sounds like a beast, hungry for human lives, screeching on the rails and violently crashing into things, adding to that guilty pleasure of watching an orgasmic display of destruction. Scott even makes a police car violently roll over without any apparent reason or regard for the laws of gravity, something he also did in "The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3" and "Deja Vu". He really has a fetish for crashing vehicles.
Washington and Pine craft believable working man heroes, never excessive or glamorous in any way. The screenplay fails to give them that third dimension, but the two charismatic actors fill the gaps just enough to help us overlook that fact and enjoy the mayhem. Brilliant camerawork and great pacing make this an easy pick if you're looking for an edge-of-your-seat action movie. Old-school Hollywood filmmaking at its finest.