Atlas Shrugged: Part II
"Who is John Galt?" The question is repeated ad nauseam but never answered in Part II of "Atlas Shrugged: The Strike."
If you haven't read Ayn Rand's fourth and final novel, her magnum opus tribute to laissez-faire capitalism, you should; otherwise, you'll have no idea what's going on in this anchorless installment of the series.
Apparently, the actors and director from the ill-received Part I bailed on this iteration, so a new group of B-listers attempted to make propaganda play as pathos. Railway tycooness Dagny Taggart (a haggard Samantha Mathis), steel baron Henry Rearden (gravel-gargler Jason Beghe) and suave copper miner Francisco d'Anconia (Esai Morales) form the power triumvirate sticking it to the man, surrounded by some decent cameos including a few lines from the famously silent magician Teller.
Too bad this paean to naked greed couldn't drum up enough capital to produce anything more than cheap-looking made-for-basic-cable film. The special effects are shoddy - the all-important train system, the only affordable mode of transportation in this dystopia, looks like the mash-up of CG and HO-scale it likely is, and the sound effects are cheeseball too. The lighting is so dim it's difficult to see faces, not that there's any nuance going on in the preachy script: "capitalism doesn't work, not with the government for a partner."
The movie is set "sometime in the near future," yet present-day Fox News blowhards Sean Hannity and Juan Williams show up, as do lame "ripped from today's headlines" pop culture references like "a bridge to nowhere" and poor people protesting with "We're the 99.98%" signs.
In the text, the world's artists and thinkers mysteriously vanish to avoid a world with skewed priorities. I'd like to join them. This "Atlas" should be shaken, not shrugged.
"Atlas Shrugged, Part II"