Brin Reviews ‘Atlas Shrugged’
One sequence of this film does stand out. I’m a sucker for lyrical cinematography, especially when it involves beautiful scenery, or else a love-ode to fine technology. And there’s about ten minutes in ATLAS SHRUGGED when we get both, as the male and female leads ride their new super-train along shimmering rails made of miraculous metal, speeding across gorgeous Rockies and over a gasp-worthy bridge.
The emotional payoff — two innovators triumphing over troglodyte naysayers by delivering an awesome product — portrayed Rand’s polemical point in its best conceivable light. I am all for that aspect of the libertarian dream. Indeed, it is the core theme that makes THE FOUNTAINHEAD sympathetic and persuasive. So, for ten minutes, we actually liked the characters and rooted for them. Significantly, it is the portion when nobody speaks.
Alas, though. The film then resumed a level of simplistic lapel-grabbing that many of us recall from our Rand-obsessed college friends — underachievers who kept grumbling from their sheltered, coddled lives, utterly convinced that they’d do much better in a world of dog-eat-dog. (Using my sf’nal powers, I have checked-out all the nearby parallel worlds where that happened; in those realms, every Randian I know was quickly turned into a slave or dog food. Sorry fellows.)
Ah well. Let’s set aside the pathetic storytelling, crappy direction and limp drama to appraise the film on its own, intended merits. On what it tried to be. A work of polemical persuasion.