So I already explained how “Atlas Shrugged Part I” is beautifully filmed and well-enough acted that those who agree with Ayn Rand’s political philosophy will enjoy it despite the ridiculous plot and often wooden dialogue. Well, Part II has all the same liabilities, with worse acting and cinematography.
The director and cast were replaced for “Atlas Shrugged Part II,” mostly for the worse. Patrick Fabian is actually an improvement as the smarmy James Taggart, but otherwise the casting suffers. Jason Beghe’s Hank Rearden rasps out his lines in a deep, hoarse voice that is a parody of masculinity. Samantha Mathis is absolutely the worst as Dagny Taggart. She actually looks the part of an experienced engineer and business tycoon more than Taylor Schilling from Part I did, but Schilling matches the age and look of the Dagny from the novel better. Also, Mathis is 14 years older than Schilling, so the transition between the two is jarring. None of that would be a deal breaker if Mathis were a better actress, but she is just terrible in this.
Plotwise, the film starts with a ridiculous-looking airplane chase, with the new lead Samantha Mathis as Dagny Taggart flying one of the jets. This scene is so badly done that I almost gave up on the film right then. Fortunately, the sequence does represent the low point of the film. Unfortunately, they revisit it at the end. Otherwise, the film continues the tale, with government interference relentlessly destroying industries, and talented people continuing to disappear. Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden continue doing their best while government looters hound them at every step. Rearden gets brought up on charges of violating some socialist law, and his trial features a moving speech that should warm the hearts of Objectivists (followers of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.) In their headlong rush to move the film along, however, the filmmakers don’t really build the trial up or give this pivotal scene the development it deserves. This problem of pacing is a recurring issue in both Parts I and II.
“Atlas Shrugged Part III” is slated to hit a few theaters in Summer 2014, and that’s all the news I can find on it. The good news is that if they decide to re-cast yet again, it’s bound to be an improvement this time.
These “Atlas Shrugged” movies are essentially porn for Objectivists. With porn, you put up with the bad acting and silly plot because you know some hot porn action is on the way. In this case, the hot action consists of people standing up for individualism and free-market ideas. It’s not something you get to see every day.
2 stars out of 5