Below-average actioner 'Unstoppable' (formerly called 'Nine Lives' under which title the film is released in some countries) proves that Wesley Snipes, the star of 'Blade' trinity, awfully needs a film with a decent script. I like him, but it is true that he might be heading for the straight-to-video land where many action film stars are gone, and never come back.
Snipes plays an ex-special agent Dean Cage who was in Bosnia, where his last mission went terribly wrong. He managed to come back alive, but is feeling guilty of the past, and his relations with his girlfriend (and a local cop) Amy (Jacoueline Obradors, 'Six Days, Seven Nights') are far from smooth. Sounds familiar? It is, and you have to wait a while for the actions to start.
They start when Cage is mistaken for another man at a diner. Some corrupt guys in suits (and hiding in Baltimore City ambulance ... don't ask me why), misidentifying the target, inject some substance into Cage's body -- making him dizzy and half-unconscious. (Oh, and the film is set in Baltimore, and you see a diner with a big crab, but it was in fact shot in Bulgaria.)
Actions (all standard ones, like shoot-outs and explosions) are not bad, but all the scenes are shot at night, so you might dislike the continuing murky darkness. But the filmmakers seem to have spent most of the budget in showing the so-so actions, for the other parts seem badly neglected, when they should have been more careful about them. The strange, flashy cameraworks only reduce the tension, and in one scene, to express the nasty effects of the injected material, we are to share POV of the ex-agent Cage -- that means, we see the scenes quickly swtching between a hospital office and a military prison one after the other, That is surely unusual, trying to give us the sense of hullcination. But it's only irritating.
Director David Carson ('Star Trek: Generations' -- odd number entry!) throws in these gimmicks, but they cannot completely hide the familiar touch of the underdeveloped B film, or the sense of 'We have seen it before,' especially the last 20 minutes. The baddies played by Stuart Wilson and Kim Coates are just ordinary -- a bad guy in charge of the whole situation, and another bad guy who does dirty business. And as to Wesley Snipes, there is nothing that would remind us of the charisma of the vimpire slayer.
I still remember Wesley Snipes in Spike Lee films, and the entertaining 'Passanger 57' and 'Drop Zone.' And I didn't hate 'Demolition Man.' But watching him in 'Unstoppable' makes me think that he might (just, might for now, OK?) on the way to be the next Seagal. And once that happens, it's really unstoppable.