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Revision: The Ten Best Action Sequences of 2010 (now with No. 8)

In my excitement to post The 10 Best Action Sequences of 2010, I forgot to include the eighth action sequence in our countdown. It was an honest mistake. My apologies to Messrs. Scott and Washington. Their team up on Unstoppable was worthy of the top 10 list but, apparently, Messrs. “Copy” and “Paste” felt otherwise…

Number 8

Captain Kirk and Malcolm X VS. A Train

“Argh! What is this crap?! Ptui! Ptui!”


When nobody was looking, Tony Scott and Denzel Washington became synonymous with the suspense-thriller genre. Their collaboration makes sense when you really break it down: Scott (director of such genre-defining actioners like Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and The Last Boy Scout) approaches film making with an old school efficiency and grittiness that is easily underlined by Washington’s natural intensity and reliability. Together, “Ton-Zel” (I’m trying it out) consistently create a type of tempered machismo that is acceptable for the alpha male and his significant other.

In Unstoppable, Washington and actor Chris Pine (yeah, fangirls…he is Captain Kirk) are a pair of down-and-out rail workers who take it upon themselves to stop a runaway train from derailing and leveling Stanton, PA. (Without an ounce of sarcasm, Rosario Dawson describes the train as a missile the size of the Chyrsler Building with hazardous chemicals and the potential to explode…don’t you just love when action films put things in perspective?) 

When you have a strong leading man in your film
nothing can stop you…not even Virtuosity.

In the film’s wonderfully manipulative climax, Pine and Washington try to slow the train down by backing up and attaching another to it. Of course that fails, and what follows is a series of white-knuckled near falls in order to beat the clock.

What’s great about Unstoppable is that despite being “inspired by true events” (in other words, pick one) the film amps up the ridiculousness and yet totally commits to it. Washington and Pine run along the top of a 70MPH train as if they were Spider-Man. Meanwhile, the entire supporting cast adds to the drama by standing around and looking concerned while police, news copters, rubberneckers, their families and the audience cheer them on. By the end of the movie, it’s pretty clear that Scott and Washington have a lock on this genre for the foreseeable future.

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