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Tag Archive: Unstoppable


Of this Fall’s onslaught of movie trailers accompanying holiday releases, one of the better previews is for a new action film starring Liam Neeson called The Commuter.  At first look it has multiple reasons you may want to check it out.  Foremost is Liam Neeson as the film’s star, if you haven’t already had your fill of his edgy character in the Taken hostage films.  Despite the perception Neeson’s performances aren’t always the same, yet he always brings authority to his characters.  The Commuter looks like it could be a sequel to Source Code, but it’s not.  It co-stars Source Code star Vera Farmiga, and the setting is also a train and a man being tasked with a life-or-death challenge during the train ride.  Source Code was a brilliant science fiction movie (which also starred Jake Gyllenhaal), but this one is straight-up action/mystery.

This type of popcorn movie distraction/escape is often all that you need–think in terms of films like Unstoppable and this year’s surprise hit The Foreigner.  The film comes from Orphan (which starred Farmiga) and Unknown (which starred Neeson) director Jaume Collet-Serra.

The Commuter also features a solid supporting cast, with Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Phantom of the Opera), Elizabeth McGovern (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Kick-Ass), and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park).

Here is the first trailer for The Commuter:

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Veronica Mars movie

borg.com readers may remember Veronica Mars as one of our favorite characters of all time.  In its three seasons Veronica Mars became one of the best series on TV.  As borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce wrote, “Complex, smart, independent, and vulnerable–with a kickass cool job–characters don’t come much better than Veronica Mars.”  More than 2 million viewers tuned in each week for its first two seasons on UPN and its last season on the CW Network between 2004 and 2007.  Yesterday the biggest Kickstarter campaign ever resulted in an amazingly fast accumulation of donations–more than $2 million in 11 hours–enough to green light the Veronica Mars big-screen movie, now scheduled to film this summer for an early 2014 release.

Series creator Rob Thomas launched the project.  Series star Kristen Bell has signed on as has Veronica’s dad Keith, played by Enrico Colantoni, and Veronica’s pals Logan (Jason Dohring), Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Weevil (Francis Capra), Mac (Tina Majorino), Dick (Ryan Hansen) and Piz (Chris Lowell), according to the Kickstarter website.  Unlikely to return, unless they come back in flashbacks or as ghosts, are the ill-fated Les Miserables star Amanda Seyfried as Lilly, CW Network’s Cult star Alona Tal as Meg, Jaime Ray Newman as Mindy O’Dell, or Ed Begley, Jr. as Principal O’Dell.  But why not bring back Dallas star Julie Gonzalo as Parker, New Girl star Max Greenfield as Leo, Teddy Dunn as Duncan, The Anchorman’s Paul Rudd as Desmond Fellows, Unstoppable’s Jessy Schram as Hannah, Just Shoot Me’s Laura San Giacomo as Keith’s girlfriend Harmony, Spin City’s Paula Marshall as Keith’s other girlfriend Rebecca, The Following’s Aaron Ashmore as Troy, or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Charisma Carpenter as Dick’s stepmom or Alyson Hannigan as Trina, or director Joss Whedon as the car rental guy or even Clerks’ Kevin Smith as the creepy convenience store clerk?

Veronica Mars movie project on Kickstarter Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

My best reaction to movies comes from those films that are not over-hyped, and that have trailers that do not show too much of a film’s content.  Examples are Inception and Avatar, two movies that were so hyped that by the time I saw them I was disappointed.  Not so for Source CodeSource Code is so innovative and interesting that you may keep talking about it, keep thinking about the different elements, the different choices made and possibilities the story reveals.  If they only made sequels to movies like this.

For one, my favorite sci-fi movie subject involves alternate realities, whether they are parallel timelines, time loops, time travel, or alternate histories.  On a basic level you will encounter time loops, a discussion topic from earlier this week, and you may encounter other alternate reality topics in Source Code.  Despite its title, it is not a computer techno-romp like The Net.  That’s a good thing.

Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man on a train who appears out of nowhere and believes he is an American soldier whose last memory was fighting a battle in Afghanistan.  He is pulled out and replaced into a confined space, and from the trailer we know this place is a train that has a destiny with some type of horrible explosion.  Like Unstoppable, reviewed earlier here, only a handful of characters and tight locations are necessary to tell this tale.  The grandiosity of the typical blockbuster is not necessary here to deliver fast-paced action and harrowing circumstances for Gyllenhaal and co-star Michelle Monaghan, and uniquely difficult decisions for a project leader played by Vera Farmiga.  The is a small film, but high concept.

Gyllenhall fails to disappoint.  Joining Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis, his films always deliver.  His acting project choices, like this film, will hopefully continue to propel his career forward.  Like his character in Zodiac, the suspense mystery about the search for the real-life Zodiac serial killer, his character in this film struggles with confidence, angst, and a desire to break out of his confinement, his lot.  His performance here is as equally exciting as his acclaimed role as a troubled youth in Donnie Darko.

Source Code contains traditional sci-fi elements, to the point you would swear this was based on a Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke or Ray Bradbury story.  It has the feel of a classic sci-fi story.  Like with Bruce Willis’s Twelve Monkeys, Gyllenhaal’s Colter Stevens is a traveller, not by choice, not in the way we all dream about what you could do if time travel were possible.  Like characters in Connie Willis books (To Say Nothing of the Dog, Lincoln’s Dreams, Doomsday Book, All Clear) Stevens has a mission to complete, but not all is as it appears.  Rounding out the key characters of the story is Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale), a lead actor type who is always equally solid in a supporting role as “the man behind the curtain.”  Look for the voice of Scott Bakula as Stevens’ father, not entirely coincidental considering this Quantum Leap-inspired quest.  And see how this could be considered another borg story, not unlike The Six Million Dollar Man.

Source Code could be compared with the Matrix, but Source Code is much better, much smarter, and more compelling.  As with movies like War of the Worlds, you are forced to ask yourself “what would I do if I suddenly awoke in Stevens’ shoes?”  Directed by Duncan Jones, this film does not follow any typical pattern and the story begins in the middle of the action, like a lot of TV shows, such as Heroes, have been filmed in recent years.  The pace works really well here.  You may be able to stay ahead of the action and decisions a few times throughout the movie, but I’d wager no one could predict the branches the story ultimately follows.  What contributes to the gravity of the characters’ situations is the believability of the circumstances in our current era of varying colored alerts.

While you’re buckling down for Irene to arrive this weekend, you could do a lot worse than renting Source Code on DVD or Blu-Ray.  Source Code’s creative story, action, and good acting earn 4.5 of 5 stars.  This may have fared even better in theaters, because so many details contribute to the story understanding that even on a decent size small screen you may miss some of these bits and pieces.

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

If you saw Taking of Pelham 123 with Denzel Washington you may sense a bit of a deja vu.  That’s probably because both starred Washington and were directed by Tony Scott, who knows how to film an unrelenting train ride.  But Unstoppable doesn’t need the criminal elements to carry a nail-biting story simmering at first then racing non-stop through the final action sequence.

Two-time Oscar winner Washington shares equal screen time with co-stars Chris Pine (Captain Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek) and Rosario Dawson (Sin City), who particularly shines as a smart, lead dispatcher who uses her experience to try to convince railway executives of the unusual danger of this train full of chemical cars racing through rural Pennsylvania without an engineer onboard, pursuing a sharp turn in the more densely populated city of Stanton.

As the story begins, a befuddled engineer (Ethan Suplee, My Name is Earl) steps off the train to change tracks, when the engine slips into full gear and takes off down the track.  Dawson plays Connie, the lead dispatcher who realizes the danger as the train accelerates head-on through train stops, encountering a head-on train of school children, a car wreck on the tracks with frantic horses, and another train being driven by Frank (Washington), who has spent decades on the rails and who recently was given his retirement notice, and newbie conductor Will (Pine) on his first day working with Frank.  Kevin Dunn plays the railway representative who, despite warnings from Connie, continues to make the wrong decisions and fails to get the train to stop.  Lew Temple plays a train welder down the line who comes in and out of the story with a bit of humor, fed up with the failed attempts at stopping the train.  Kevin Corrigan plays a railway inspector adding his own theoretical and mathematical contributions to the core team’s strategy (think if train A leaves town at 5 p.m. and travels at 55 mph and train B advances in the oposite direction at 70 mph, at what time will the trains collide??).

The first third of the film is a pretty comfortable ride.  We get to know about Frank and his daughters, and Will and his problems with his wife, played by Jessy Schram (Life, and young Allison on Medium).  The camera angles and slow-build really sets up the action in a believable, non-Hollywood way, and the ride is steady and not overdone.

After the experience and decisions of Frank working via radio with Connie prove invaluable, the stakes are raised as Frank and Will attempt a reverse speeding pursuit of the train and we get to see incredibly-shot filming of some nice stunt work as Pine and Washington take turns physically trying to take control of the train.  Director Scott could have taken the story, based in part on an actual runaway train through Ohio in 2001, in typical directions, but he instead offers a more nuanced pursuit that is more subtle, while still maintaining humor and a number of great action scenes, including multiple attempts to jump on the train from a truck, harrowing train dangling by Pine, and Washington running atop and jumping between railroad cars.    For the film’s climax Scott gives us a chase scene that involves trains doing what we’ve only seen stunt cars do in the past.

In a summer of blockbusters and overly marketed video releases, this less advertised action movie should not be missed.  Rating: 4 of 5 stars. On DVD and Blu-Ray.