Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I like the tag line on the cover of the DVD: "You can't escape your lies." Transsiberian is a creepy good movie. Poor Roy (Woody Harrelson). He is an over-the-top, super-nice hardware store owner from Iowa. We meet him and his wife as they're finishing up a mission trip to China. While the rest of the team heads home, they embark on a transsiberian train trip. Roy, a train buff, is fulfilling his dream of taking a trip on this famous train route.

Shortly he and his wife Jessie (Emily Mortimer) meet up with Carlos and Abby, who share the cramped train compartment with them.  Carlos, a charming but suspicious acting Spaniard, and Abby, a detatched, moody American, say they've been teaching English abroad and are simply gadding about.  But everything about them, as friendly as they seem to be, raises suspicion.  At one stop, Roy and Carlos wander around looking at the trains while the ladies shop.  Carlos returns but Roy doesn't.  Jessie panics, and at the next stop the three of them check into a hotel to await Roy.  Here's where things get interesting.  Carlos tries to take advantage of Jessie, a move he doesn't live to regret.  Roy shows up, giddy from his adventure, and he Jessie hop on the train to continue their journey.

They are met by Grinko (Ben Kingsley--does he play any role that's not creepy?  OK, Ghandi wasn't exactly creepy, but other than that. . . .)  He's an investigator, going after drug traffickers on the Transsiberian.  Surprise, surprise, Carlos was suspicious acting because he's a drug trafficker!  And he snuck some of his goods into Jessie's luggage!  And Grinko is really a bad guy!  And he wants the money Carlos stole!  Roy and Jessie get stuck in the middle of all of it, and Jessie's lies to cover up her bad choices just make things worse.  The result is a gripping ride with some nice twists. 

One thing I would have liked to have seen developed is Roy and Jessie's faith.  Roy, a church-goer and a short-term missionary, marries Jessie, a self-proclaimed wild child.  Does she not share his faith?  Is she a new Christian struggling with her past, or a non-Christian tolerating Roy's devotion?  What role does Roy's faith play in the choices he makes?  This is decidedly not a Billy Graham film, but since their trip to Asia starts with a short-term mission, it might have been interesting to see how their faith informs their choices.

There's a little bit of gore in Transsiberian, some shoot-em-up violence, and some intense action.  The movie's not driven by that but by the dense plotting.  I think this was direct to DVD.  It's better than many movies in the theaters, though! 

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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