Just when you think Martin Campbell is ready to make the leap to A-list director status, he takes a pure for-hire gig that reminds you he’s just a high operating hack. In a way, you’ve got to respect that. What if Martin Brest would’ve limited himself to character-driven comedies like Going in Style or Midnight Run? Though he might’ve missed the modest heights of those films, at least we would’ve been spared Meet Joe Black and Gigli – films with grandiose subjects that exceeded the grasp of a writer-director who was at his best when delighting in the smaller details of life.
Luckily, Campbell’s only flirtation with the turgid prestige picture genre, Beyond Borders, was seen by approximately seven people. Since then, he’s worked his way back into the good graces of audiences and studio execs alike with his professional helming of Casino Royale, the movie that singlehandedly saved the James Bond franchise. But, since the director’s chair on Bond movies has been a rotating position since John Glen’s hands were removed from the series’ neck after License to Kill, Campbell has been temporarily forced out of the 007 fold for his next feature. True to form, the director has hopped aboard a no-nonsense actioner at 20th Century Fox called Unstoppable, which concerns the efforts of an engineer and a conductor as they chase down a runaway train transporting all kinds of toxic nastiness. Should they fail, a town of undisclosed size will be melted like Paul McCrane.
Scripted by Mark Bomback, who’s hot off Live Free or Die Hard (did you hear it’s going to be PG-13!?!?), the film has been, wait for it, fast tracked. Wilford Brimley and Levon Helm are in advanced talks to star as, respectively, the engineer and conductor.