You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter s - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in! Rand's parable is meant to showcase just how much our world needs the best of us, but this adaptation only does so accidentally — by revealing what movies would be like if none of the best of us worked on them. Key scenes feel hustled through, the plotting which sometimes is updated for today and sometimes is not vague and confounding.
Fake newscast footage of America's vague calamities — pirate attacks! And the world is never convincing: Why are there redwoods in John Galt's Rocky Mountain hideaway? Why does this America not seem to have highways or trucking? And where is everybody? The streets are empty, and in the absurd ending, Dagny and a squad of lovable billionaires bust into a secret compound to save Galt from torture ordered by the president of the United States — and only face one security guard.
Why is Galt posed like a crucified Christ in a movie based on a book by the right's most beloved atheist? Why haven't the filmmakers updated the train politics for an audience who, mostly, consider public transportation an affront to American sovereignty?
And why can't any two Atlas Shrugged films have the same leading actors? Was the last cast so moved by the material that they've gone Galt themselves? The movie's so slipshod and half-assed that I almost feel for Rand, whose ideas have proved enduring enough that they at least deserve a fair representation, if only for the sake of refutation.
Here those ideas are presented without force or clarity. The films reflect neither the '50s America that Rand lived in and wrote about, the Soviet Union that she fled, nor any comprehensible political now. Early on, a doctor explains that he's joined Galt's Colorado do-nothings because the feds had started telling him what treatments he should and shouldn't give.
That moment was greeted with hisses by a couple Obama-haters at the screening I attended. But not even Dinesh D'Souza fans could link the current administration to the events of the final reels, when Galt winds up on the business end of a taxpayer-funded torture device. It looks like a wire bedframe attached to a Fisher-Price Busy Box. The film's just the barest gist of Rand, a glib Left Behind fantasy about starting new, exclusive suburbs with cool gold money. The economic supermen, after bowing out of life, are going to do their own farming?
Galt's epic speech to America, which takes about three hours to read in the book, gets five or so minutes of screentime and is the most effective scene in all three films. All that's a shame, as the ideal dramatized in Atlas Shrugged — that, for the gifted, contributing to the greater welfare is a choice rather than an obligation — actually has transformed American life.
How else to justify offshore accounting, overseas manufacturing, the abandonment of infrastructure spending? Those who can have already gone Galt We'd be better off if they actually just left.