Last night my husband downloaded "Unstoppable." He's a train buff, and this film has been on his wanna-see list since it came out. I was not particularly interested in a testosterone laden bang 'em up, watch 'em crash and burn thriller, but with it being a Friday night and with snow on the ground outside, I poured a glass of my favorite drink and sat down with him to a flick.
It was not at all what I expected.
It was a good, clean, all American movie. Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and Will Colson (Chris Pine) are working men. They're both family men, though each has his relational challenges at home. Frank is an old union guy. He's been an engineer for more than two decades. Will is the fresh-out-of-training conductor. The two are assigned to a routine freight run in rural Pennsylvania, and as they set out neither one is sure what to make of the other.
A few hours into their run, they are informed that, careening headlong toward them is an unmanned, runaway train carrying hazardous material. What follows is an hour and a half of edge-of-your-seat suspense as the corporate big guys, the dispatch middle manager, and Frank, Will, and a few other salt-of-the-earth people on the ground give all they've got to avert the environmental and human disaster sure to ensue if the train were to derail.
I was on the edge of my seat pulling for the heroes. And I do mean heroes. Not superheroes, but ordinary men who call up from some unseen place inside the courage and wherewithal to do what needs to be done, even when it could cost them their lives.
It's a quintessentially American story, too. This nation has its flaws, but I still see deep in the soul of America a high view of human life. We care about saving other people, even strangers. We value honor and sacrifice. We respect smart minds that think up creative solutions to problems when the pressure's on.