Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The one I saw last week was a far cry from all the superhero movies released this summer. "TransSiberian" is the story of a couple from Iowa taking the famous TransSiberian train from Beijing to Moscow. Roy and Jessie have just been ministering to kids in China and are on their way home. But since Roy has a thing for trains--he has a train set in his basement--they get on the train. Right away it's obvious I wouldn't want to get on this train and travel thousands of miles. It's cramped, the windows don't open, the toilets don't flush, and the east listening music doesn't ever stop. Still, Roy and Jessie are making a go of it, though we see they have some conflict in their marriage concerning birth control.

Then after making a stop at the Russian border where they have to change the wheels of the train cars because Russia uses a different gauge than China, two young bohemians come on board. Carlos is from Spain while Abby is from Seattle--or at least that's what they say. There's something shady about them right from the get-go when Jessie wakes up to them trying to have sex in the room they all share.

Things heat up at the next stop where Roy misses the train while exploring and Jessie has to wait for him to catch up with Abby and Carlos. From there the intrigue begins with a murder, some cleverly hidden drugs, and a drug enforcement inspector named Ilya. The end gets a little convoluted and silly, but overall "TransSiberian" managed to hold my interest, in large part because of great acting all around. Woody Harrelson basically updates his bartender character from "Cheers" though a little older and smarter. Ben Kingsley as one critic noted adds another great ethnic character to his resume after "Gahndi" and the Iranian officer in "House of Sand and Fog." Emily Mortimer does a good job as the ordinary woman in way over head. And Eduardo Noriega has just the right amount of sleazy charm as Carlos. So even though there aren't explosions or giant monsters, you're still interested in finding out what's going to happen to these people.

As I said earlier, though, the ending gets a little silly. I guess they felt the need to get one expensive action scene into the movie. What stays with you though as the characters--especially Jessie--make moral choices is to wonder what you would do in that situation, if it ever came to that. Pray that it doesn't.

I loved director/writer Brad Anderson's previous "The Machinist" and this film was also very good, so I'm looking forward to seeing more of his work in the future. I did manage to see this at the AMC theater near me, but other chains are not carrying it, so it might not be playing in your area. If not, make sure to check it out on DVD or On Demand when it comes out. If you like a good grownup suspense flick this is for you.

(My grade: 3/4 stars)
(Metacritic grade: 72)

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