Ayn Rand (1905-1982) has to be hemorrhaging in her sarcophagi ! She is a titan, visionary in the rarefied world of literature. Her theory of “Objectivity” ,“Individualism”; the industrialist, master-builder, capitalist without smothering government strictures eventually empowers the common man. How in the twenty-first century, with all the tools, talent and plethora of material could this bastardized version of “Atlas Shrugged” evolve into a placid product forced on movie-goers; what does that say about the bamboozled naive who went with knowledge and foresight? The nirvana of individualism Rand believed in is destroyed in this platitudinous muck. Who is John Galt? Who cares?
Pretty actors, mannequins designedly attired, strut vacuously through staged sets; these lovely robots, recite dialogue reminiscent of Rand but bereft of fire, substance, provocative power.
Taylor Schilling, looking perpetually surprised, is Dagny Taggart, striving, simplifying the role of the keenly sagacious cold- blooded savior of the Taggart Railway Line, bonding with equally bland and tepid Grant Bowler as Hank Reardon; if only some of the steel Reardon manufactured went into Bowler’s characterization. This movie is a composite of one “if only” after another. If it had been made for television we could snack during the commercials or fast forward if taped. Hoping for the train’s derailment, how pitiful is that?
Sixty two years ago (1949) “The Fountainhead” a film worthy of Rand; my favorite Rand novel. One of the best courtroom soliloquies ever filmed is Gary Cooper playing the architect Howard Roark. Rent it.
Sadly, in today’s media oftentimes the capitalist is maligned (“Wall Street”) painted with an aura of unrighteousness because of his (or her) wealth; besieged with unfair criticism with little recognition of the good that is generated by their largess. Ayn Rand, writing in the 40’s and 50’s saw a world where ingenuity could spawn the trickle down phenomena ; every man thrives when one man’s vision is allowed unencumbered, to flower. “Atlas Shrugged” fails completely to champion anything, except shallow, hollow mediocrity.