A fictional followup of sorts to last year’s Tea Party big screen debut, the political doomsday documentary Generation Zero, Atlas Shrugged embraces the similar philosophy of leaving the billionaire CEOs alone to mind their own big business. And having the additional dramatic advantage of eluding any necessity of separating fact from fantasy. While extolling one of the right wing’s biggest and strangest icons, the rather oxymoronic 20th century homophobic feminist, Ayn Rand.
Adapted from the first section of the novel of the same name and proposed as a trilogy in progress by Cybex International CEO turned credited co-screenwriter John Aglialoro, Atlas Shrugged is fairly characteristic of Rand’s collection of bloated, pro-capitalist soap operas in print. Whose premises conceive of a more perfect society based on abdication to a snobby affluent egghead elite by the rest of us, in a sort of smartocracy devoid of that interfering entity known as government. Okay, but do we really want to be ruled by a bunch of brazen brainiacs instead? And didn’t we just all bail them out to the tune of billions when they were kind of running things already in this battered economy?
Taylor Schilling is Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, the gutsy head honcho presiding over a transcontinental railroad empire, who nevertheless dresses like she just exited modeling school. Dagny is the kind of take charge ballsy woman who has no patience for government or union requests for safety standards, and if the railroad workers are going to balk at driving her untested equipment around the country, she’ll just darn well do it herself. Even if she has to offer her gym body up in exchange for a hefty expansion loan.
Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious fellow named John Galt making the rounds, and stalking then disappearing various fellow upscale smirking smart alecks. It seems that the corporate suits of the world have grown weary of elite hand wringing and government meddling in their affairs, and are about to get even by going on strike and retreating to their own personal unrestrained Atlantis. But Dagny gets it, and she and her married lover, industrialist and futuristic aluminum inventor Henry Reardon (Grant Bowler) may be on their way outta here soon too, raising the battle cry, ‘We are all John Galt.’
Atlas Shrugged taunts the status quo with a combo greed is fabulous mantra laced with topsy turvy Marxism extolling robber barons in mass rebellion. But in the end seems to be serving up nothing more than lots of hokey wishful thinking, disclaimer free super-wealthy diatribes, and pretentious political yakety yak.
On a side note, co-screenwriter John Aglialoro’s Cybex International gymnastic equipment corporation in the real world was slapped with a lawsuit that led to a $66 million dollar award to a thirty year old woman. Who was rendered a quadriplegic after one of his exercise machines fell on her.
Imagine if we indeed lived in his idol Ayn Rand’s Utopia, where safety regulations and punitive measures were rendered an obstructive thing of the past. Or did this lawsuit by chance have anything to do with the emphasis placed on the concerted attack against government safety regulations that figures in this movie?
Aglialoro intends to appeal.
Rocky Mountain Pictures
1 [out of 4] star