5 Plot Point Breakdown: Unstoppable (2010)

By Michael Schilf · August 25, 2011

Screenplay Genre: Action / Thriller

Movie Time: 98 minutes


A hostler Dewey (Ethan Suplee) jumps from the slow-moving train to switch the tracks manually, but when he tires to re-board, the train picks up speed, and he fails to get back on. Yardmaster Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) is then informed that they have a coaster: the unmanned train is rolling into imposing traffic and the air breaks weren’t tied on. (00:14:37)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

Meanwhile, 28-year veteran engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and his 4-months-out-of-training conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) discover from Hooper that their locomotive is headed towards the unmanned train, but Frank and Will can’t pull into the nearest siding due to Will’s earlier mistake of taking more cars than they had in their work orders. (00:29:28)


As the unmanned train is en route for a head-on collision with Frank and Will’s train, they manage to divert their train onto a RIP track in the nick of time, as the runaway smashes through their last car. (00:50:06)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

After chasing down the runaway train by powering their own locomotive in reverse, Frank and Will attempt to connect their locomotive to the open coupling of the last car of the unmanned train, but this fails because the pin doesn’t drop to secure the connection. As a result, Will must do it manually, and after severely smashing his foot and almost dying, Will successfully connects the trains. (1:14:00)


After the gap between the train cars stops Frank from jumping from car to car, an injured Will has no choice but to leap into the back of Ned’s (Lew Temple) pick up truck, which speeds alongside the train at 70 mph. And then in a last-ditch effort, Ned speeds up to the front of the unmanned train so that Will can jump from the pick up to the locomotive and hopefully stop the train. (1:25:55)

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