Films (Not) Based On A True Story – Unstoppable
Unstoppable: even the title exudes both destruction and hopelessness. The trailer was all jumpcuts and explosions, and made reference to ‘a missile the size of the Chrysler Building’, so when it ended with a massive ‘based on a true story’ note plastered all over it, I was desperately wracking my brains for which national, nay, international disaster this movie could have been based on. It must be, like, the London Tube bombings mixed with Chernobyl, right?
Let me give you a rundown of the plot. A train transporting super dangerous chemicals is somehow hurtling along the tracks with no one on board. It is headed for a densely populated city, but it looks like it might first crash into a train full of young children. The only way this could possibly get any worse is if it involved cute puppies or something. Maybe it’s Christmas Eve. My point is, shit’s going down.
But, we realise something’s up when we hear about all the little changes to the true story that they made to the film and also, the hilarious reasons why. The most drastic edit was perhaps this: remember the extremely dangerously-placed oil/chemical storage tanks that the train looked set to crash into? Yeah, they didn’t exist, and were added in ‘to increase the sense of danger’. Also, the number of cars containing the dangerous chemical was quadrupled, taking it from barely-noteworthy to pant-ruiningly terrifying. And it turns out that the number boards above the cabs for locomotives 777 and 767 were added ‘to give the locomotives a more menacing appearance’.
So, the event this was based on is known as the CSX 8888 incident, in which a train turned from a regular train into a runaway train when the driver decided to climb out and couldn’t get back in. Some people, eh. Things got a little bit hairy when this train continued on its merry way without any human influence, but eventually, trainmaster Jon Hosfeld came to the rescue.
How, I hear you ask? How were the travel plans of this renegade locomotive thwarted? Jon ran alongside the train and jumped on…
This is like me claiming that Inception was based on that time I fell asleep. Or that Avatar actually tells the story the story of that time I walked to the shops and punched a man dressed as a smurf. Which, by the way, totally happened. Probably.
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