Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Transsiberian. B

If Hitchcock were making movies today, I believe they would look something like 'Transsiberian.' The only difference would be that he would be wise enough to realize that the suspense is best when kept subtle. 'Transsiberian' recognizes that for the most part, but it forgets the rules during its final few acts and loses its legs in the process. By putting in too many action scenes, the picture loses much of its sincerity and becomes 'cheap entertainment.' Thus it falls flat and makes what could have been a brilliant movie into merely a good movie. The story, though easy to follow, is congested with different characters and plot twists. For starters, it's about an American couple (played by Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) who are on a train to Moscow when they encounter another couple who share the same cabin. They're friendly, but slippery and mendacious as well. We know that something isn't right about them. When one of the Americans goes missing, things go awry and the story takes a wicked turn. At this point it's still fairly plausible, but after an unfortunate double crossing, everything gets out of hand. 'Transsiberian,' directed by Brad Anderson, deals with some pretty substantial ideas about human guilt, mainly faced by Mortimer's character. Too bad it draws its conclusion in an all-too-familiar way. Though the final third of the movie takes it down, 'Transsiberian' still deserves a hefty amount of praise. It's never mundane and the scenes in which the characters are merely conversing on the train are really fantastic. Also, the performances are solid all around. Harrelson and Mortimer deliver as always (though perhaps Harrelson more so than Mortimer, who isn't quite convincing enough as an American citizen). Also, Ben Kingsley, who makes an appearance at the beginning the film and then in the final third is strong as well as a devious police detective. In the end this is a well crafted, suspense-filled thriller, a bone chiller that will entertain despite it's unfortunate third act that never should have been.

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