In his 10.18 Showeast-response-to-upcoming-movies piece, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond quoted an exhibitor who’d seen Tony Scott‘s Unstoppable (20th Century Fox, 11.12) and said it’s “exactly what you see in the trailer — a totally routine action film.”
Who said that? Who the fuck said that? Who’s the slimy little communist shit, twinkle-toed cocksucker down here who just signed his own death warrant? Some exhibitor with a drink in his hand? I’ve only seen the trailer, but I know that’s a stupid and lazy thing to say.
Scott is constitutionally incapable of making routine action films. With the exception of Domino and maybe one other, he always hits ground-rule doubles that wind up being triples because the runner always goes for the extra base. And when he’s got good material (like, for example, when he made Crimson Tide or Man on Fire) he always hits long triples. Within the white-knuckle, smart-ass action realm Scott is as good as it gets, so don’t tell me he’s made something “totally routine.” A runaway train slamming into buses and cars with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine and the usual ace photography and cutting and rat-a-tat-tat supporting cast that you always get with any Scott film?
Last year at this time I suggested with a straight face that Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 should be considered as a Best Picture nominee, not because it’s a “serious” emotional film about something important or close to our communal heart, but because it delivers a certain type of thing with exceptional flair and skill. Here’s a portion of what I wrote:
“The idea in nominating ten films is to promote and celebrate a movie or two that guys like Scott Foundas and Dennis Lim don’t approve of, right? That Average Joes paid to see and actually enjoyed?
The Taking of Pelham 123 “is precisely the kind of shrewd, sharp-angled, deftly layered urban thriller that high-end Hollywood filmmakers like Scott are better at making than anyone else in the world. And I’m convinced after watching [it] that it’s a damn near perfect film for what it is. The sucker never lags or falls into clicheville, it has a crafty plot with well-massaged characterization, it’s always psychologically complex or at least diverting, it delivers first-rate performances and just rocks out up and down.
“And so somewhere over the Atlantic I began asking myself why a film as well-made and fully engaging as this one can’t be nominated for Best Picture? Because it’s a summer movie and summer movies don’t win awards? Of course they don’t, and of course this one can’t. The suggestion is to pop Pelham into the ranks of Best Picture contenders in order to round out the pack and toss a bone to the lowbrows and guilty-pleasure fixaters like myself.”