Twenty minutes into Atlas Shrugged - Part One, a bitchy wife is presented with ugly bracelet by her husband. Her immediate response: "The chain is appropriate; I think it is the chain by which he holds us all in bondage" . If you want to know whether or not you'll enjoy this movie, just think of how that line sounds to you and extrapolate it to the rest of the film.
The story takes place in the year 2016, where there is a huge oil crisis and recession. This means that everyone is using trains now, despite them crashing all the time. Simultaneously, America's best and brightest are disappearing in connection with a shadowy figure called John Galt. Rail tycoon Dagny wants to fix this by building a new railway out of super steel, in spite of the constant meddling of bureaucrats, union leaders and corrupt businessmen. Will she finish the railway on time? Who is John Galt? And why should we care? By the end of this movie, only one of those questions gets answered.
I'll give credit where it is due: I quite liked Dagny. Think Erin Brockovich
, crossed with ''Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS''
. She's this icy, frustrated, no-nonsense gal, trapped in a world where everyone else gets in her way. That last part, incidently, is somewhat problematic. There is no sensible explanation as to why officials keep trying to stop her, yet we are expected to dislike them for doing so (even though at times, these officials make sense
: constructing an entire railway out of an untested, impossible steel does warrant some
A bigger problem is caused by the setting. Ayn Rand set Atlas Shrugged
in a 1930s alternate America, where trains are still a big deal. This movie wants to draw parallels with the Obama administration, so it takes place in our near future. The film attempts to combine these two very different periods into one, resulting in constant (yet unilluminating) exposition to make sense of it all. After a while, the film resorts to explaining everything
to the audience. "I really want to find out about this motor"
says Dagny, as though we hadn't just watched her travel 500 miles and break into a disused factory, just to look for said motor. That is what Atlas Shrugged
thinks of its audience.