Release Date: July 18, 2008
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Saturday, June 7, 2008
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Woody's into the hemp again.

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Position Staff In Brief
72/196 Max Braden Decent emotional thriller but Kingsley's accent bothered me.
77/98 David Mumpower I'm a huge fan of writer/director Brad Anderson's previous film, Session 9, but this completely misses the mark, particularly Ben Kingsley's character (and acting).

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One of the best aspects of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, North by Northwest, was its usage of a train to create a claustrophobic atmosphere for a man in over his head. Videogame players would be quick to add that Resident Evil 0 accomplished the same feat. A person or group of people trapped in a moving vehicle instantly creates a heightened sense of tension, one that has become less prevalent in modern cinema due to the ubiquity of air travel. Transsiberian seeks to return to the glory days of dangerous cross country travel.

Set on the titular Transsiberian, a train that travels from outer Mongolia to Russia, the film tells the story of an American couple returning from missionary work in Peking. Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) are a struggling couple trying to reconcile his do-gooder tendencies with her youthful indiscretions. They take the seven day train ride on the Transsiberian, not knowing that the run down train system has become a haven for drug traffickers.

During their travels, they encounter Abby (Kate Mara) and Carlos (Eduardo Noriega), a couple who also speaks English. Happy to have someone else to converse with, Roy and Jessie quickly befriend them. Complications occur, of course. Carlos becomes a bit obsessed with Jessie, going so far as to hide his drugs in her luggage and, oh yeah, come on to her when her husband isn’t around. For his part, Roy has accidentally gotten left behind at one of the train stops, so he misses his wife’s unfortunate encounter with Carlos. It ends in bloodshed, and one of them doesn’t make it back on the train.

When Roy arrives, he is forced to piece together several mysteries. He has to uncover the cause of Abby’s mysterious behavior at the last stop, he has to figure out why their foursome has become a ménage a trois, and it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get rid of all of the illicit drugs, either. This aspect is exacerbated by the fact that a Russian detective named Grinko (Ben “I’ll take any part for money” Kingsley) has joined him. The Eastern European cop is hot on the heels of a murder investigation and he thinks that Roy may accidentally lead him to uncovering the truth behind the train’s drug trafficking.

Transsiberian sounds complex to the point of bordering on absurd. It does, however, share many of the classic elements of train action-dramas such as Hitchcock made with North by Northwest. As such, it’s a novel title on the release schedule that merits serious consideration, particularly for die-hard movie buffs. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Transsiberian
Main Cast Woody Harrelson, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer
Supporting Cast Kate Mara, Thomas Krestchmann, Eduardo Noriega
Director Brad Anderson
Screenwriter Brad Anderson, Will Conroy
Distributor First Look Studios
Screen Count 2
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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