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Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Unstoppable Movie Poster Image
Runaway train thriller is more suspenseful than violent.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 98 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 45 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Will and Frank's efforts demonstrate teamwork and collaboration -- they must trust each other, even though at first they aren't very friendly. The movie also makes it clear that just because workers get old, that doesn't mean they're obsolete. Viewers will also see that what's best for the common good can be at odds with what's best for a particular company's business interests -- and the movie makes it clear that the right thing to do isn't always the easiest or most profitable.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frank is smart, experienced, and confident in his skills. Connie, who seems to be the sole woman at a train yard full of men, is effective in her leadership position. Will puts the needs of his hometown above his own fear. Will and Frank learn to trust each other and work well together.


A character dies in a train explosion, and throughout the film there's a pervasive dread that a group of kids on a field trip -- or the protagonists, or even an entire town -- will get killed/destroyed because of the runaway train. There are several stressful, intense scenes.


Frank's daughters, who work at Hooters, are shown sporting very short shorts and tank tops. Connie gives Frank a congratulatory kiss. Will and his wife kiss and embrace.


Language includes words like "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "a--hole," "p---y," "hell," "damn," "oh my God," "goddamn," and one use of "f--k," plus insults like "idiot," "stupid," and the like.


Prominent appearances by Ford trucks. Supporting characters work at Hooters.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character is shown smoking cigarettes; waitresses serve drinks, but no one really really drinks in the movie.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that compared to other Tony Scott/Denzel Washington thrillers (like Man on Fire), Unstoppable is relatively mild on violence. There's definitely lots of suspense -- and plenty of nailbiting scenes -- but there's no blood or weapons violence. A train explosion does kill one conductor, the runaway train nearly collides with a horse, and the main characters get injured and bruised. Language includes "s--t" and "ass," and prominent brands include Hooters and Ford. There's not too much sexual content -- a kiss, a couple of embraces, and a shot of the Hooters waitresses. Washington's wise, brave character is a good example of an older character who still has lots of expertise and experience to contribute; he and Chris Pine's character demonstrate strong teamwork skills.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 17 year old Written byjkssmom December 3, 2010

A free ticket movie, but not a movie I would recommend to others

So much language I was starting to cringe by mid movie. Walked out. Will wait for the television version.
Parent of a 14 year old Written byDiscerningMom January 14, 2011

Good for mature 13 yr olds & up

Outside of the swearing, which we as parents personally get tired of hearing in movies, this movie has a good story. It depicts turning a nowhere situation int... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySafemancam001 April 2, 2011

Great for teens

This movie turned out to be better that I thought it would be. It was very exciting, and funnier than I expected. I liked who it all turned out.
Teen, 13 years old Written byMovieReviewGuy September 29, 2011

Good for 13+

This is a compelling, suspenseful thriller about a train that goes loose on the tracks and is headed right for a city. It is violent, but not with fighting and... Continue reading

What's the story?

On his first day of work, newbie railway company employee Will (Chris Pine) is teamed with seasoned engineer Frank (Denzel Washington). While they're out picking up a cargo shipment, another rail worker (Ethan Suplee) ditches a heavy train full of combustible material, causing it to go at full speed without anyone on board to man it. The responsible train yard supervisor, Connie (Rosario Dawson), attempts to work with her greedy corporate manager (Kevin Dunn) to come up with a solution to stop the train before it hits any other trains or reaches a dangerous above-ground curve that will definitely derail it. Since Will and Frank are on the same track as the runaway train, they start working on a plan to slow it -- but there's no room for error, or an entire Pennsylvania town could be decimated.

Is it any good?

This isn't one of those action movies people will be talking about in 10 years, but it's a decent nail-biter with exceptional actors. This is director Tony Scott's fifth collaboration with Washington, so at this point, we know what to expect when the two work together: explosions, intense action sequences, and Washington chewing up the scenery. UNSTOPPABLE, which is based on real events, is actually much simpler (there's no real villain, just a mildly greedy train corporation and the train itself), less violent (the body count stops at one), and funnier than previous Scott/Washington outings (Suplee and a couple of other supporting actors provide much-needed comic relief). As Washington ages (his character here is being forced to retire), it only makes sense that their films should mellow a bit too, and it works.

At first Washington and Pine seem to have no real chemistry, but as the movie lurches forward and the dramatic tension is set up, they start to play off each other well. And it's always a pleasure to see two such charismatic actors (although Pine, like in the film, is definitely the novice to Washington's master craftsman) spar and then find common ground. It's also refreshing to see Dawson play a female leader in a profession where that surely isn't the norm; she proves once again that she doesn't always need to be the stereotypical leading lady to nail a role.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's suspense. Which is scarier -- gory violence or nailbiting suspense? Why? Which has a more lasting impact?

  • One of the movie's themes is ageism. At first, how does Will react to Frank's age and Frank to Will's newbie status? How does their relationship change by the end?

  • How does this movie compare to other "train movies"? What's so compelling about a runaway train?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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