Transsiberian ~ (Spain, 2008) ~ Netflix

As I’ve said many times over, I’m a ‘director’ and ‘actor’ guy. There are some directors that will draw me in to the theater, though this is not always foolproof. But good acting can raise a film to an acceptable viewing level, even if the final product itself is sometimes lacking. Do I really care for Woody Harrelson? Not really. And Emily Mortimer? I have no personal consensus on her (she was good in Woody Allen’s Match Point, but she didn’t particularly stand out in Hugo or Shutter Island).

Now Brad Anderson (the director) is an interesting case. He’d made one pretty good film that I had seen (The Machinist) and has been tapped to direct episodes of some interesting tv series: from great (The Killing, Treme, Rubicon, The Wire) to good (Boardwalk Empire) to varying degrees of “interesting” (Fringe, Person of Interest, and Alcatraz, which I stopped watching.). The boy keeps busy.

So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I slipped this into the disc player. What I got was an entertaining.and suspenseful thriller. This was not a film driven by the acting however. Oh, Mortimer was ok, but Harrelson was ridiculous and mis-cast to boot. Ben Kingsley as a ‘which side is he on’ Russian narc hams it up pretty well, and Kate Mara and Eduardo Noriega were good (especially Noriega as the irresistible con-man.0

It’s the screenplay, co-written by Anderson along with the exceptional cinematography that really drives this film. Be forewarned: there are some agonizing scenes of torture that may not sit well with some viewers, but these are relatively confined in scope. Recommended with a caveat.

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