×

Atlas Shrugged: Part II — The Strike

"Atlas Shrugged: Part II -- The Strike" is consistent with its predecessor as a somewhat awkward translation of Ayn Rand's 1957 novel to our current era, handled with bland telepic-style competency.

With:
With: Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe, Esai Morales, Patrick Fabian, Kim Rhodes, Richard T. Jones, D.B. Sweeney, Paul McCrane, John Rubenstein, Robert Picardo, Ray Wise, Diedrich Bader, Bug Hall, Arye Gross, Rex Linn, Larisa Oleynik, Jeff Yagher, Michael Gross, Stephen Macht, Thomas F. Wilson.

Though it flopped in wide release following surprisingly strong limited play, last year’s “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” evidently did well enough — or its producers are simply committed enough — for this second of a projected trilogy to be made. “Atlas Shrugged: Part II — The Strike” has a whole new director, cast and crew, with slightly higher production polish and more familiar faces onscreen. Nonetheless, it’s consistent with its predecessor as a somewhat awkward translation of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel to our current era, handled with bland telepic-style competency. Theatrical biz will be middling, ancillary better.

With the economy collapsing, the government shutting down private industry and the “best minds” all mysteriously disappearing, Taggart Transcontinental chief operating officer Dagny (Samantha Mathis) and self-made Rearden Steel magnate Henry (Jason Beghe) are the last bold individualists who give a damn about this once-glorious nation in a sea of lily-livered takers, including her weak brother (Patrick Fabian) and his bitchy wife (Kim Rhodes). Naturally this only makes our heroes hotter for one another, though it’s hard to find time for mashing lips when so many crises must be contended with from sea to shining sea.

As the dread too-big government increasingly legislates their own businesses out of their control, Dagny tries to unlock two secrets: how to work an electromagnetic motor she’s found laying about (with help from Diedrich Bader’s wacky rogue scientist), and figuring how who the hell that John Galt guy is anyway. In a plane-pursuit sequence that begins and ends the film, she finally gets her wish — though auds will have to wait until “Part III” to see Mr. G. (D.B. Sweeney) in more than just silhouette.

As before, Randheads will be divided between those who find the pic insufficiently grandiose enough to be the “Atlas” of their dreams, and those so in thrall to the author’s ideas that any reasonably professional product will suffice. Others, particularly those who haven’t read the book, will simply find it silly, talky and dull. That said, John Putch (a more experienced TV helmer replacing the first film’s Paul Johansson, another actor-turned-director) maintains a decent pace and a straight face. Still, the whole project remains hobbled by the initially budget-minded decision to set the story more or less in the present rather than the 1950s, when it already seemed somewhat improbable.

This renders the story’s railroad emphasis wildly anachronistic, despite some attempted explanation. It also requires the pic to pretend ours is still a primarily self-contained national economy, rather than bound to the modern global one. (The filmmakers themselves couldn’t quite pull that off, as the end credits reveal substantial post-production work was done in China.)

Thus, a time-warp air hangs over the whole affair, though the film’s three scenarists have dropped a few up-to-the-moment buzz phrases into the mix to seize their just-in-time-for-elections moment; Rand’s cartoonish conflict between industrious quality people and lazy, effete quasi-socialists is now “job creators” vs. “looters.” There are repeated glimpses of Occupy-like protestors, who eventually turn against their alleged government benefactors, although notably, none of them gets so much as a single line to speak.

Though the actors this time come with higher-profile track records, they’re surprisingly not much of an improvement, and in some cases (notably Esai Morales as decadent playboy-cum-secret-free-market superhero Francisco d’Anconia), quite the opposite. Of course, with dialogue this clunky and expository, one can hardly blame them; with no attempt at finding a stylistic equivalent to Rand’s heightened worldview (a la King Vidor’s 1949 film of “The Fountainhead”), they’re stuck playing real in a context that feels unaware of its unreality.

The mostly blah corporate and hotel settings are in a sense apt, but add no flavor. While “Part II’s” attempt to encompass Rand’s sweeping narrative on a far-below-major-studio budget is admirable, the underwhelming f/x dampen its few opportunities for action sequences.

Atlas Shrugged: Part II -- The Strike

Production: An Atlas Distribution Co. release of a Harmon Kaslow & John Aglialoro Prods. presentation. Produced by Harmon Kaslow, John Aglialoro, Jeff Freilich. Executive producer, William A. Dunn. Co-producer, Bernie Laramie. Directed by John Putch. Screenplay, Brian Patrick O'Toole, Duke Sandefur, Duncan Scott, adapted from the novel "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Ross Berryman; editor, John Gilbert; music, Chris Bacon; production designer, Roland Rosenkranz; art director, Mark Walters; set decorator, Dan May; costume designer, Bonnie Staunch; sound (Dolby Digital), Craig Woods; supervising sound designer, Paula Fairfield; visual effects supervisor, Larry Detwiler; assistant director, Richard E. White; casting, Jeff Gerrard. Reviewed at AMC Metreon, San Francisco, Oct. 12, 2012. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 111 MIN.

With: With: Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe, Esai Morales, Patrick Fabian, Kim Rhodes, Richard T. Jones, D.B. Sweeney, Paul McCrane, John Rubenstein, Robert Picardo, Ray Wise, Diedrich Bader, Bug Hall, Arye Gross, Rex Linn, Larisa Oleynik, Jeff Yagher, Michael Gross, Stephen Macht, Thomas F. Wilson.

More Film

  • Durban Film Fest 2019

    Durban Fest Hails Film as ‘Conscience of Our Nation’

    DURBAN–When Ros and Teddy Sarkin raised the curtain on the first Durban Intl. Film Festival 40 years ago, the odds were long that their scrappy fest would survive its inaugural edition. The apartheid government and its draconian censorship board had a stranglehold on the films that reached South African theaters, banning the sorts of subversive [...]

  • Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

    Film Review: 'Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell'

    “Streetwise,”  the classic and haunting 1984 documentary about homeless street kids in Seattle, is a movie that’s now 35 years old. But for anyone who has seen it, the children it’s about — drifters, hustlers, squatters, thieves, prostitutes — remain frozen in time. And none of them was ever more memorable than Tiny, the 14-year-old [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Revenge Motive May Have Sparked Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Japanese media is speculating that revenge was the motivation for the arson attack on Kyoto Animation which killed 33 people on Thursday. Investigative sources quoted by Jiji Press on Friday said that the man in custody had a grudge against the studio. “Since [the studio] stole my novel, I poured out the liquid and set [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate Gabriel Luna

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Cast Proud of Latinx Representation in Latest Installment

    The stars of the Tim Miller-directed “Terminator: Dark Fate” stormed the stage of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H on Thursday, but it wasn’t until after the panel — which included appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton — that Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta reflected on what makes the upcoming installment in the [...]

  • It

    Producer Sues Warner Bros. Over 'It' Film Adaptations

    A producer who developed the original “It” TV miniseries sued Warner Bros. on Thursday, alleging the studio breached his contract by making the films “It” and “It Chapter Two” without him. Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky were running Telepictures in the early 1980s when they acquired the rights to the Stephen King novel. They developed [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Kyoto Arson Attack: Animation Community Mourns Colleagues

    Thursday’s deadly attack on Japan’s Kyoto Animation studios left many in the animation community shocked and horrified by the loss of 33 of their colleagues. Another 36 people were injured in the attack, which was Japan’s deadliest ever. A suspect was arrested after pouring a flammable liquid inside the building, which caught fire and trapped [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Film News Roundup: Nicolas Cage's '10 Double Zero' Completes Financing

    In today’s film news roundup, financing has been secured for a Nicolas Cage police drama, feature drama “Topside” is unveiled and the late Tom Snyder is getting a tribute from his daughter. FINANCING COMPLETED DCR Finance Corp. has signed a deal to complete the financing for Nicolas Cage’s upcoming crime drama “10 Double Zero.” The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content