Ayn Rand comes across like the fairy godmother of the Tea Party as her sociopolitical screed gets updated. Atlas Shrugged, her fourth and final novel, preached the philosophy of Objectivism, built around notions of reason, individualism, trusting the market economy and freedom from government coercion. One Tree Hill actor-director Paul Johansson’s adaptation sets the story in the near future (2016), where the current economic downturn continues to spiral into the abyss but somehow the railroad has become the key to reversing the trend.
Railroad executive Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) and steel manufacturer Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler) struggle to maintain their competitive edge in the face of enemies intent on crushing their independent entrepreneurial spirits. On the outskirts of the action, a series of undeveloped players disappear, abducted by a mysterious stranger, but there’s no sense of where they have gone or why.
The stilted dialogue feels like it was faithfully lifted from the text word for word, confirming that Rand had an ear for soapy exposition minus the emotional drama and/or any sensuality. This is lifeless speechmaking that will make the audience shrug and walk away without asking for the second and third parts of this series. Grade: D-