Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged Part 2

By:  Bob Adelmann
10/15/2012
       
Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged Part 2

Part 2 of the movie trilogy of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is, by turns, eerie, chilling, disappointing, and affirming. With twice the budget of Part 1, Atlas Shrugged Part 2 is broader in scope and adheres more closely to the original book. It also has a new cast. Many had high expectations. In some respects it succeeded; in others it didn't.

Part 2 of the movie trilogy of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is, by turns, eerie, chilling, disappointing, and affirming. With twice the budget of Part 1, Atlas Shrugged Part 2 is broader in scope and adheres more closely to the original book. It also has a new cast. Many had high expectations. In some respects it succeeded; in others it didn't.

Opening like a James Bond thriller, Dagny Taggart (Samantha Mathis) is driving her private jet at maximum velocity in an attempt to follow another pilot over the Colorado mountains. She cries out in exasperation the theme that appears throughout the movie: “Who is John Galt?” The implication is that the other pilot has the answer.

The film flashes back to her frustration nine months earlier when she is unable to learn who invented, and how to make work, an energy generator that operates on static electricity, yielding essentially free energy with no pollution. The story line is simplicity itself: Creative entrepreneurs are deemed to be enemies of the state and their capital (including their patents, ideas, and inventions) must be forcibly relinquished — “gifted,” as government officials put it — to the state, all in the name of egalitarianism.

But why should these entrepreneurs continue to create and produce? Why not simply disappear? One by one that's exactly what they do — leaving behind the message “Who is John Galt?” Without their hard work and creative juices, the economy, already weakened by government intervention in the marketplace, can only get worse. How could it be otherwise when Atlas, battered and bleeding while still straining under the burden of the world on his shoulders, finally shrugs?

With six protagonists and five antagonists, the film could have been simple to produce. But with 56 other secondary characters, some assuming major but brief roles in the film, the story line is interrupted frequently, sometimes unforgivably so.

The film was eerie as it showed gasoline selling for $42.50 a gallon, costing Taggart nearly $865 to put 20 gallons into her truck. The film also managed to show downtown streets nearly deserted except for some on bicycles.

It had chilling moments, such as the “star chamber” scene where Hank Rearden (Jason Beghe) is being charged at a Unification Board Meeting — essentially a Star Chamber — with violating the latest of draconian regulations: doing business with a friend. His penalty: a $50 million fine and 10 years in jail.

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