Mini-review: Transsiberian

Finally, I watched a bad movie that I can review. And oh man, was it dissappointing! I had multiple people tell me how great Transsiberian was, how it was tense, and scary. I don’t know what they were thinking, though, because this movie is definitely neither of those.

transsiberian_lTranssiberian is a film about a nice, Christian couple who decide to take the Transsiberian Railway on their way home from China. Unfortunately, they get mixed up with a couple of randy backpackers who also happen to be smuggling drugs. Up until you discover the drugs, it is a pretty decent movie. The setting and characters are both fairly interesting, and we get to see some good cinematography of old Russia. Tense, however, it is not.

What is good about the movie? Um, the first half is okay. As I said, it is an interesting setting that is put to good use. Also, Woody Harrelson kind of steals the spotlight because he seems like such a great guy.  Oh, and the cinematography is decent.

Other than that, Transsiberian is really nothing special. I was left bored from one hackneyed device after another. From the beginning, you can glimpse where the movie is going to go wrong when you are introduced Woody Harrleson’s character. I don’t know if Hollywood scriptwriters actually think that hardcore Christians are really this dumb and naive, but he came across as the stereotypical ‘goody-two-shoes’ that a liberal audience would (supposedly) love to laugh at. This continues throughout the movie, with some stereotypical Russian cops, some stereotypical American agents (God Bless America!) and all that.

But more importantly, the movie isn’t suspenseful at all. That might be because it is fairly predictable. Maybe I have seen too many thrillers, but come on, do something original!  They never stray far from well-worn plot devices.  In the picture above, the main character is trying to throw away a bag full of drugs. But oh no! There’s someone near the garbage can!  Obviously can’t throw it away there.  Let’s throw it out the door of the fast moving train! Foiled at that!  Obviously we shouldn’t try, say, a window instead.  Let’s wander over here! Drat, not again! It felt like one of those farcical episodes of Friends where everything goes wrong because the  characters are acting dumb.

It also has the problem of a lot of thrillers/horror films where the character gets in trouble because they are just being an idiot. This happens a lot.  For instance, in The Grudge, we figured the ghost thing actually just had a grudge against thick people. At least that was scary; in Transsiberian, it just comes off as the scriptwriters being unable to think of an intelligent story.

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