The king of the rail-road.
So right there's this train, and its going really fast and fucking shit up, and if Denzel Washington and Captain Kirk can't stop it its going to kill a lot of sweet middle America folk. And there's your movie. Its a concept that's easy to mock, yes, but there's something adorably lo-fi about it that feels like a 70's disaster movie, back when the genre wasn't what Roland Emmerich has come to define it as - soulless orgies of destruction - and it was about plucky people surviving against a contained situation or threat.
I like that we have no villains, and I like that the movie respected its subject matter instead of feeling it always had to compensate for it. It's a movie about a runaway train, no more no less. And I got something out of that, and I think the film is much the better for not making it about anything else. Granted our characters are cliched beyond belief, and when Washington and Pine start talking about their back-stories and such it suddenly becomes pretty unbearable. The problem with characters in films like this is that it is believed they should have some kind of emotional resonance, but they have no idea how to actually do that, so we get the ' I love my daughters' or the ' I love my wife' bit which is never not trite or cheesy. I submit that all we need to know about these people we can gather from watching them do their jobs, and its when this is done that the movie works. Like an inferior version of Speed, when we're dealing with the train its pretty engaging thrill-ride, when we're not its a by the numbers chore. But I think there's more of the former then the latter, so I was fine with it.
Denzel Washington, who seemingly only makes thrillers where he plays an under-appreciated civil servant who gets to save the day these days, is such a rock steady, effortlessly engaging presence in these kind of things he often makes mediocre material much more bearable. But what I like about the guy is that despite being a pedigree actor of the highest order, he doesn't try and win Oscars with every movie he makes. And he so could if he wanted to. But he makes thrillers, because I think he likes them. And I like that. Chris Pine does a good job here too, with some rough material and an unenviable role. Rosario Dawson shows up to get paid, and Kevin Dunn plays the corporate douche he always seems to play. Its not rocket science or high art, but its a thriller that thrills and entertains. So fair play.