PG-13, 97 min.
Director: Paul Johansson
Writers: John Aglialoro, Brian Patrick O’Toole, Ayn Rand (novel)
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Edi Gathegi, Patrick Fischler, Michael Lerner, Joe Polito, Rebecca Wisocky, Jsu Garcia
The first part of the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” has the effect of making you feel like you’re being clubbed to death with a baby seal. The ideas about how everything in our society should be based on the notion of rewarding individual achievement, and that the whole thing is being run off the rails by bleeding hearts and corrupt politicians are so insistently heaved upon the audience that the story can hardly bear their weight.
It tells of a very near future, 2016, in which the country’s infrastructure has broken down to the point where railway travel and rail shipping are the only viable ways for businesses and individuals to function. Uh-huh! Luckily, it doesn’t really try to explain why trains would be viable with fuel coasts soaring out of reach for all other modes of transportation. Anyway, a brother and sister run a train company. He wants to help people. Ew, how disgusting?! He also wants to help himself; a contradiction the story doesn’t seem interested in reconciling. She just wants to make money. She meets a steel tycoon who only wants the same and they’re apparently the only two left in the world that realizes their ability to make money helps everyone. Four years from now? Really? There’s gonna be a lot of deaths on Wall Street really soon.
How the heroes still have so much money in a society that has made it all but impossible to make money is another detail the film never reconciles. Other mysteries include the movie’s biggest question, who is John Galt and why is he taking the premiere achievers of this sad future away? Try to hold back an audible laugh when it is revealed just where he’s taking them. Why did a company abandon their designs for a miracle engine and why did they literally just leave the designs behind in their abandoned warehouse? The two heroes investigate these mysteries much the way Fox and Scully search for proof of alien life forms.