Atlas Shrugged – A Movie Review

It’s been 52 years since Ayn Rand penned her masterpiece. When it originally hit the streets, most people thought it was absurd. Something like it could never happen. However, as you watch the movie that covers the first third of the book, you are jarred at how many things she wrote are happening today. You don’t go to see this “movie made on a budget” to get great acting, although there is some. You don’t go to see glitzy sets or wonderful special effects. That’s not what this movie is all about. It is all about the story.

Rand’s story about individuals who create both products and wealth and the government that is certain it knows better than the free market and does everything it can to stop them is not complicated. It shows how creativity can be beaten out of people and winners can be turned into losers by fiat. It also shows how those people can simply shrug their shoulders and say “enough.”

I was taken a bit by the discussions in the line for tickets. One woman told me that she was frightened at what was going on in our country. She assumed she had a confident. I must be, I was standing in line to see Atlas Shrugged.

The movie starts slowly, as we are set up for what it to come. Taylor Shilling as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler as Henry Reardon do well in their moves from TV to the big screen. Mathew Marsden, who plays Dagny’s brother in the film might do well to remain on the box, this role was beyond his reach. Veterans Rebecca Wisocky as Rearden’s wife, Graham Beckel as oilman Ellis Wyatt, Michael Lerner as the government’s slimy Wesley Mouch, Jon Polito as a back stabbing Orren Bolye and Jsu Garcia as Taggart’s old flame and John Galt provocateur do good work to keep quality acting in this film. Deep Space Nine fans will love Armin Shimerman‘s cameo as a wrenched from today’s headlines politicized scientist Dr. Potter.

Once again, it’s not the acting, the sets or special effects that carry this movie; it’s the frightening reality of the story. Ayn Rand does not mince words, and John Aglialoro and Brian Patrick O’Toole‘s screenplay hold to her theme. When you leave the theater you have no doubt who is to blame for the economic trials of the America in the story (and perhaps the America of today) and that the enclave described by Rand may be the individuals’ only hope.

I was surprised that actor Jsu Garcia was in attendance and addressed the audience, thanking us for coming and telling us not to believe everything we had read about this movie. It was doing good numbers, he said, and the nearly full theater at 2 PM on a Sunday attested to that fact. (As of Sunday, it was taking $1400 per theater, which was third in the country, whatever that means.) In true free market fashion, Producer John Aglialoro has said that parts two and three will be filmed if part one is a financial success. Ayn Rand would expect no more. If the applause at the end of this showing was any indication, there is a chance.

In Atlas Shurgged, only one state is successful, Colorado, where oil has been developed by Wyatt’s company. The government has passed law after law to prevent this success from continuing. The most chilling scene was the last, as Dagny looks out over Wyatt’s burning oil field. Wyatt is gone to join John Galt in his enclave. The camera pans back and there is a hand lettered sign. I paraphrase: I return the land to the way I found it.

If you don’t understand, you need to see this movie.


FWIW – Critic Roger Ebert panned the movie, (of course) and was particularly disturbed by the fact that the love scene was shown “from the neck up.” He felt more breasts and butts were needed. I found this scene particularly endearing. Director Paul Johansson gave us just enough.

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