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Non-Review Review: Transsiberian

This is another one of those movies that didn’t seem to make it to cinemas and instead found its way into Dad’s hands in extra vision (I blame the fantastic cast for that). It’s a story of lust, murder, drugs and Matryoshka dolls aboard the titular railway line. I wish I could make some sort of pun about the movie building momentum like a runaway freight train, but it doesn’t. It meanders and it wanders, never really going anywhere.



The cast is top notch, I will conceed, but they feel wasted. Woody Harrelson is much better than his role here, as is the ever-fantastic Ben Kingsley. Thomas Kretschmann seems to have been recruited simply to stand still and look menacing. Emily Mortimer anchors the film quite well, playing a bad girl gone good. But good performances aren’t all that’s needed to anchor a dark crime thriller like this. Most of the actors feel wasted.

Still, it’s fairly obvious even from the opening scene where the movie is going, but  the movie seems to take its time getting there. It’s hard to rachet up suspense when the audience already knows where your terminus is. It doesn’t help that the plot relies on a whole heap of utter ridiculous contrivences and coincidences. To suspend your disbelief at the way things unfold, you’d have to believe that there’s some sort of divine creature out specifically to screw with the two leads.

In fairness, some of the cinematography is beautiful – mostly the fantabulously shot ‘train porn’ – but that just isn’t enough to anchor a film like this. I’m fairly sure there’s a definitive ‘bad stuff happens on a train journey’ movie out there just waiting to be made, but this sure as hell isn’t it.


Transsiberian is directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist, The Wire) and stars Emily Mortimer (The Pink Panther, Redbelt), Woody Harrelson (Kingpin, No Country for Old Men), Kate Mara (Brokeback Mountain, 24), Thomas Kretschmann (Valkyrie, Wanted) and Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, Schindler’s List). It went direct to DVD in the States and in Ireland.

One Response

  1. […] you’ve seen about drug dealers and bent cops in the last year alone (I’ve even seen one this weekend). When it works, it works magically. It seems like the mid-nineties was the era for […]

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