Transsiberian (2008)

Dir. Brad Anderson
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley, Kate Mara, Eduardo Noriega, etc.

This is a hard one to call. I think all of you could go either way. I will say that you’ll take a chance. (I’d guess that the highest score most of you would give is a 7, while the lowest would be a 4.) The cast is good (I saw this because I like Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer). FWIW, the metacritic score was 72.

The film is about a married couple, Roy (Harrelson) and Jessie (Mortimer), traveling on train from going from China to Moscow. Along the way, they meet another couple, Carlos (Noriega) and Abby (Mara), which leads to some challenges for Jessie. The film is a drama that gradually becomes a thriller.

The film ultimately disappointed me because I don’t think the characters went very far beyond cliches. I mean we’ve seen these situations and characters before, but they may have been interesting if the filmmakers developed them. I think the biggest problem has to do with the writing and direction, not the acting. Jessie is a key character in the film, but the scenes to develop her character don’t really interesting facets of her character. I think of Mortimer as an actor who plays frail characters, but here I believed her as someone who ran away at a young age, and had a pretty hard life. The problem is that there isn’t much more to her character than that description. A similar thing occurs with her relationship with her husband Roy. Roy is this straight-laced, Mid-Western, church-going businessman, who ostensibly helps Jessie turn her life around. But again, the filmmakers don’t add much more to the relationship than that. Roy mentions that they’re marriage has been experiencing problems, but we don’t see the reasons for that.

In addition the thriller aspects of the film don’t tie in well with the story of her character and her relationship with Roy, imo. But the thriller aspects of the film also don’t work, imo, because the villians are not very compelling either. Basically, the film has potential, but the filmmakers do very little to develop the characters, story, especially tying the various plots together in a fresh and seamless way.

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