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From the Speed Bus to the Better Off Dead Paperboy: 10 Other Unstoppable Forces

In the new thriller Unstoppable, opening today, Denzel Washington desperately tries to stop a runaway train laden with combustible liquids and poisonous gas — which is hard because it is, paradoxically, unstoppable! Have you ever tried to stop something unstoppable? It’s impossible, of course … yet it’s so damn tempting to be the one who proves the adjective wrong, isn’t it? Therefore, it’s no wonder that so many moviemakers are drawn to unstoppable objects or forces (buses, meteors, cyborgs) hurtling toward disaster, with only a superman or everyman trying to get the damn thing to put on the brakes, or at the very least slow up a bit. Here, Vulture provides a list of film’s most unstoppable forces, and their various degrees of unstoppability. Don’t stop now — read on!

ESTIMATED SPEED: 50 mph, at the very least WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? Boobytrapped to explode if speed falls below 50 mph. FAILED METHOD OF STOPPING IT: Keanu Reeves crawls under the bus while it’s in motion, but can’t disarm the bomb. WAY IT IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: Everyone is evacuated thanks to video closed-circuit trickery. WAY IT COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED A rousing round of “1,000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” among the bus passengers would clearly have bored mad bomber Dennis Hopper. When he wandered off to give someone else a pop quiz, everyone could quietly hop on to an escape truck.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 25 knots WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? The ship’s computer system is hacked by a madman and set to sail full speed ahead into an oil tanker. FAILED METHODS OF STOPPING IT: Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric try flooding the ship with water to slow it down and taking out the propeller with a steel cable. WAY IT IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: The ship runs aground on the island of St. Maarten. WAY IT COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED: In the ship’s arcade, they were bound to find a sun-phobic teenage computer nerd who’d been dragged on a family vacation against his will. He’d eagerly do a counterhack, all while simultaneously explaining why his sister is such a stupid jerk and trying to get a glimpse of Sandra Bullock’s cleavage.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 75 mph WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? Hijacked by terrorists who need to keep the locomotive speeding along so that their location can’t be traced. FAILED METHOD OF STOPPING IT: Steven Seagal takes out numerous henchmen instead of heading straight for the evil mastermind at the controls. WAY IT IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: A head-on collision with a freight train. WAY IT COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED: A cacophonous Seagal guitar solo has been known to stop people in their tracks. Surely it could work on a train.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 28,000 mph WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? Because it is the size of Texas. FAILED METHODS OF STOPPING IT: Scientific mumbo-jumbo easily dismissed in plot service of getting a group of roguish wise-asses shot into space. WAY IT IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: Interstellar wise-asses implant and detonate a nuclear device inside the asteroid. WAY IT COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED: Everybody gets to one side of the asteroid and leans.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 28 mph (on foot) WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? The cyborg has been programmed solely to kill Sarah Connor and as a result is a little cyber-OCD about the whole thing. FAILED METHODS OF STOPPING IT: Point blank shotgun blasts, police assistance, pipe bomb to the groin — you name it. WAY IT IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: Crushed in a hydraulic press. WAY IT COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED: Birth control.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 5 mph, relatively consistently over three years, two months, fourteen days and sixteen hours. WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? Simplemindedness and indifference to grooming. FAILED METHOD OF STOPPING HIM: Common sense. WAY HE IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: Gets tired and decides to go home, and soundtrack runs out of classic hit songs of the seventies that overtly reference theme. OTHER WAY HE COULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED: Shin splints.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 45 mph WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? Broken brake lever paired with gravity. FAILED METHOD OF STOPPING IT: Turbaned bad guys attempt to knock it over. WAY IT IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: Indiana Jones uses his own booted feet to grind the wheels of the cart to a halt just inches from where the track ends. WAY IT COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED: Indie and Short Round had earlier survived jumping out of a plane by sitting in an inflatable raft that gently drifted hundreds of feet to the ground. By the movie’s wind-resistance logic, Jones could have stopped the cart by holding his hat behind him and using it as a parachute brake.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 40 mph WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? The Mackenzie brothers’ brakes are sabotaged by a minion of a sinister brewing corporation. FAILED METHOD OF STOPPING IT” Tapping the brakes; complete indifference. WAY IT IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: The van runs off a pier and into Lake Ontario. WAY IT COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED Shake up many Molsons, spray foam in front of the van. Line dashboard with back bacon for extra padding upon impact.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 18 mph WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? An Ahab-like obsession with collecting what’s owed him. FAILED METHOD OF STOPPING HIM: Out-pedaling him; shutting the door in his face; blatantly ignoring him. WAY HE IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: Ski-bikes off a cliff. OTHER WAY HE COULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED: There is one solution, but it costs two dollars.
ESTIMATED SPEED: 5 mph with legs, zero mph without WHY SO UNSTOPPABLE? Prone to injury, but oblivious to it. FAILED ATTEMPT AT STOPPING: Logic and reason: King Arthur argues that he’s won the sword battle since the knight’s arms and legs have been cut off, but it is dismissed as semantics. WAY HE IS ULTIMATELY STOPPED: Once his limbs are gone, he becomes a far more avoidable — if no less tenacious — adversary. WAY HE COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EASILY STOPPED: Run away! Run away!
From the Speed Bus to the Better Off Dead Paperboy: 10 Other Unstoppable Forces