Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 (2011) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Based on the 1957 book of the same name, Atlas Shrugged is the tale of a railroad tycoon’s attempt at saving her failing company during an economic squeeze in the near future. The year is 2016, and the economy of the US is in collapse. Most of the infrastructure in the country is lacking serious upkeep. Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) must repair her railroad lines if she’s to keep her company afloat, and she’s just found some amazing new metal, Rearden metal, that is stronger than steel and will last for centuries. Now as she tries to get the new track laid, a stranger lurking in the shadows works against her by luring away the best and the brightest industrialists. As the CEO’s around her disappear and abandon their companies to greedy political interests, she finds it more difficult than ever to ensure not only her future, but the future of the country. Helped by Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler), the owner of Rearden Metal, they set off to uncover the force working against them, and to find the inventor of a revolutionary new engine.

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 is the first part of what is perhaps the dullest plot ever to be filmed. Had this been a true story I could have forgiven the stuffy and boring dialogue, but this uninspired tale takes far too long to arrive at an ending that is so out of place, it almost makes no sense at all. The mystery, relying heavily on the watch phrase “Who is John Galt?”, is somewhat intriguing, but as it pans out in the cliff-hanger ending not nearly enough is revealed or explained. Paul Johansson’s direction does at times add some excitement to mundane proceedings, but the pace of the film weighs it down too much. The only saving grace here is Elia Cmiral’s superb cinematography. He paints frames with stark contrast yet includes vibrant and vivid colors.

This could have been collapsed into a twenty minute piece, and probably would have been better had the filmmakers decided to make the book into only one movie. In a time when Occupy this and that is taking over the country why would someone make a film featuring the one percent as heroes? There’s no sense that these characters really care about the economy of the US, simply that they want their businesses to thrive. Their disconnect from the rest of the ninety-nine percent is made ever more evident as they attend parties for the wealthy and seem to have an abundance of time on their hands. If not simply weighing down the chairs behind their desks or hanging around the general vicinity where hard labor is happening, it’s never very clear what actual work they do.

With big set pieces being workers laying railroad track and a very unrealistic 250 mph train ride I recommend skipping this dry and tedious trip through a future world of economic turmoil. Atlas Shrugged, and so did I.

Director: Paul Johansson
Stars: Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler

One thought on “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 (2011) – Review

  • February 7, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Unfortunately part 1 is kind of a bore until the end. It was probably a bad decision to release part 1, without the next part because not many people will be interested in part 2 after seeing part 1.


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