Good news and bad news about the movie Atlas Shrugged II. The bad news first. Samantha Mathis is, alas, nowhere near as good a Dagny Taggart as Taylor Schilling was in part one of the movie saga. Mathis tries hard, but she just doesn’t come off as tough enough, as angular enough, as enough of a force of nature, as Dagny needs to be. Schilling, in the first flick, got it pretty darn well, although she wasn’t perfect. Jason Beghe is okay in the new one as Hank Rearden, although not quite as good as the very, very good Grant Bowler in the first one. And so on down the line, with all the actors in the second not quite living up to (or badly failing to live up to in a few cases) what were surprisingly decent performances in the first, and with the plot not moving anywhere near as insistently or smartly as the plot in the first. (One note: While the actor playing the evil Wesley Mouch in the second doesn’t quite fit the book’s version of Mouch the way the first actor did, he DOES add a useful dimension: Take away the gray, and he has looks remarkably similar to Tom Perez, the dishonesty and ill-motivated head of the civil rights division in the corrupt Obama/Holder Justice Department. He also is believable a bad, bad dude. It’s sort of creepy.)
Matter of fact, in rewatching the first one the night before I watched part II, I found it remarkably effective.
But, on to Part II: As in the first flick, part II does a superb job of attacking statism. So much of what it portrays, with remarkable faithfulness to Ayn Rand’s novel, is frighteningly similar to things we see these days from Obama Land. It is easy to imagine a “State Science Institute” under Obama with outsized and illicit power. It is easy to see Obama’s team pushing various pieces of legislation outlawing forms of economic competition, freezing wages and prices and even job status, and doing all sorts of other things the bad guys do in Atlas Shrugged II. So much of the rhetoric from the statists in the fictional account is so similar to the rhetoric from statists in real life in the United States that one cannot help but see the slope down into tyranny as a very real possibility.
I don’t think a lot of Americans will see the movie, but anybody who does see it who isn’t already convinced of the evils of statism should come away from the movie with a newfound appreciation for liberty. And while the movie isn’t a thrill a minute, it does definitely hold one’s interest and does definitely provide decent entertainment value. Indeed, my wife and I both found it more entertaining, more worth seeing, than the vast majority of what Hollywood turns out these days.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am no Randian. I do not come anywhere near her in terms of faith: I am a devout Christian; she is an atheist. I utterly reject her rejection of philanthropy, compassion, etcetera. I do not worship the dollar, or even make a fetish of it. I find a great deal of her philosophy to border on being monstrous. And I utterly reject her idea of people of talent going “on strike” in order to let the world collapse and then pick up the pieces.
In short, I do not agree with many of Rand’s prescriptions. But I DO agree, wholeheartedly, with many of her diagnoses of statist ills, dangers, and evils. Her version of a dystopia is far too close to today’s emerging realities to be comfortable. Her warnings are well worth hearing, even if she then prescribes snake oil rather than the best, most effective medicine.
All of which is a diversion from the main point of this post: First, please do go rent part one of Atlas Shrugged, the movie. Then go to the theater to see Atlas Shrugged II, and bring a “swing voter” friend or two.
All of you will enjoy it, and your friends might be swayed in the direction of freedom.