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Orson Welles once said that directing a movie was like playing with the greatest toy train set in the world, and Tony Scott seems to be taking him literally. With the caboose of Scott's Taking of Pelham 123 barely in the distance, the filmmaker turned to Unstoppable, a train-chase picture loosely inspired by a true story (and perhaps just a smidgen by Runaway Train, the 1985 film based on an Akira Kurosawa script). At a Pennsylvania rail yard, some clueless workers let an unmanned train get loose, and the thing is soon hurtling across the countryside. Did we mention that it's pulling a few cars' worth of highly toxic material? Did you doubt it would be? Meanwhile, old-time engineer Denzel Washington and new conductor Chris Pine are making a routine run nearby--of course, in the movies, a routine run almost always turns into something wild. This odd couple is the only hope for stopping the runaway, while upper management dithers and an operations-room dispatcher (Rosario Dawson) spends most of the movie talking into her headset. Scott is an unabashed manipulator, and he yanks all the strings at his disposal for this whipped-up pageant: song cues, hype-filled reaction shots, stunts aplenty. It's all so aggressive, it makes you wish the exciting story could be allowed to tell itself. But the pulse does quicken, if you can turn your mind off for a while. And although it's faint praise, the movie is undeniably better than Pelham 123.--Robert Horton.