Jack E. Kemp
After the NY Post's film critic Lou Lemenick panned Atlas Shrugged Part II, I was surprised to see that it was playing on opening day in my local outer borough neighborhood's smaller Regal movie chain theater. For that to have happened, someone who saw it was impressed. I recall the first Atlas Shrugged movie opened in New York City at only one or two Manhattan theaters and never got into this particular neighborhood movie house. So I took a short walk and went to see the film.
What I found was a film that had much better pacing and drama than Atlas Shrugged Part I - and a new cast. The first film's Dabney Taggert looked like a local tv news reader from a middle market, barely out of college. She was too young for the part of someone running a major business. The current Dabney, played by Samantha Mathis, is more mature and much more fitting for the part without being a "lady of a certain age." There were also some surprise appearances such as a cameo by Teller of the magic act Penn and Teller - and comic actor Diedrich Bader (formerly of the Jim Carey Show) as scientist Quentin Daniels. Esai Morales as Francisco D'Antocia and John Rubenstein were two other recognizable names in the cast.
The story begins with something out of the ending scenes, a high speed private jet chase through the mountains of the West, and flashes back to tell what lead up to it. The preceding events included heavy handed government regulations hamstringing the producers of society to produce "fairness" and "equal distribution." As I listened to government official Wesley Mouch, played by Paul McCrane, and others argue this viewpoint, it sounded like an Obama stump speech written by David Axelrod...word for word. Wages were frozen. People could not quit their jobs. The government seized all patents, copyrights and corporations. All this motivated talented individuals to leave the society, making references to John Galt in notes left behind. Novel author Ayn Rand - and the film's producers - were showing us what a hard leftist government such as the Obama administration would do to our freedoms, given some additional time and opportunity. Speaking of television commentators, the ones shown in the film parroted the government's rationalizations of "fairness" in slick and soothingly worded statements for public consumption. They were totally believable: I thought I was watching CNN or ABC.
Gasoline in this movie was over twelve times as high as the current California prices, effectively ending private auto travel and restricting airline schedules to once a week flights for those few that could afford a ticket. As much as the government wanted to jail Henry Rearden, the nation's best steel producer, for some "fairness" violation, the court knew it couldn't run his vital company without him. Still, the government seized his tangible assets and made him essentially their employee in a form of indentured servitude without end. Using recent news as inspiration, there was even a government Czar to insure "fairness" was enacted. And the movie dramatically ended with you wanting to see the sequel, Part III.
Although this is will not draw the crowds of a Saw movie, consider it Saw for the "Economy and Freedom," an economic horror story. Go see it.