Sunday, August 17, 2008

Review - Transsiberian

An American married couple on their way home to the U.S. from China decides to take the Trans-Siberian railway to Moscow before flying home. Along their nine day journey through Russia the couple share their cabin with a mysterious couple who are being followed by a Russian detective. The American couple come to find themselves thrown into a chase of decption and corruption that could have a very deadly effect on anyone involved.

Directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist), I had very high hopes for Transsiberian. Unfortunately, the film moves at a tremendously slow pace with nothing really happening until the anti-climatic finale. The film is best described as a dialogue thriller, but the majority of the film is so stagnant, it has a hard time holding all of your attention. Like the long and arduous nine day train ride the couple must complete, the film just takes too long to go anywhere.

The cast in Transsiberian are good, but only really have a few highlights, in the 111 minute film. Emily Mortimer is a stunning actress whose accomplishments speak for themselves, but here in Transsiberian her character is so unbelievable in moments, it ruins the rest her amazing performance. Throughout the third act of the film, Mortimer's character looses all compassion from the viewer and instead it is replaced with frustration over her characters senseless decisions. Woody Harrelson plays a perfect simpleton whose the driving force why he and his wife are on the train. His character Roy, is a major train enthusiast and wanted to take the trip. Harrelson does a great job of playing the "wide-eyed" train enthuisast who doesn't see what is happening right in front of him. Ben Kingsley provides a caliber performance you have to come to expect from him, but he his only utlized in the third act and feels too small for his stature.

The cinematography throughout Transsiberian is absolutely beautiful, but it doesn't replace the bad pacing of the film and overall weak development. The first two acts of the film are slow that I found myself straining to continue watching. By minute marker 52, the film finally builds up enough steam to keep the viewer wondering what will happen next, but again Mortimer's characters decsisons are so brainless, it really takes away from the somewhat intense conclusion. The finale act, although it has moments of intrigue, ultimately disappoints and leaves the viewer unfulfilled.

Transsiberian, a film that really intrigued me going in, which I thought would be a great thriller with it's phenominal cast of Mortimer, Harrelson, Kingsley, and co-starring Kate Mara and Thomas Kretschmann, however the film feels like it goes nowhere for too much of the film and drowns out the great cast with its only marginally intriguing story. Finally, the indie thriller was a big disappointment for a huge fan of Anderson's work with The Machinist, and ultimately makes the viewer say, "I never want to go to Russia!"