First Hit: Poor acting, monologue heavy, but better than Part I.
Part I, which I reviewed in April of 2011, was poor from the get go. Part II is slightly better but Samantha Mathis does not bring life or any character to her part as Dagny Taggart.
She is simply not believable as the head of Taggart Railway, and some of her scenes she was not engaged and it seemed as if she was reading the script for the first time. Jason Beghe plays Henry Rearden head of Rearden Steel. He portends to be the guy with all the right morality when it comes to business but not so in his personal life because he is cheating on his wife Lillian (Kim Rhodes) with Dagny.
This film is supposed to move the whole set of films (Rand's story) along so that we wonder how the fight between big private business versus big government turns out and who's right. The government wants the people who have nothing, that don’t create value (according to Rearden), to receive their fair share by bilking big business. If you look at today’s 99% protest marches, the similarities come to light with a slightly different twist. In the film the government creates edicts which will destroy the companies.
Some of the scenes in this film were shot much better than many of the scenes in Part I. And low and behold, Part III will be coming.
It stands on its own that none of the actors in Part I made it to Part II. However, many of the actors in Part II may make it to Part III.
Mathis cannot carry this film in her title role. Speaking dialogue that, in many cases, didn’t work, and when she tried to make it work she wasn’t believable. To her credit, at times, it was completely just a bad script. Beghe was more believable, yet the script led him to have these monologues which got old. Rhodes was more believable and fun to watch in her brief appearances. Esai Morales (as Mine Operator Mogul, Francisco d’Anconia) was amusing and again his role was to spin monologues. Richard T. Jones (as Eddie Willers – Dangy’s right hand man) was good and one of the strongest characters in the film. Duke Sandefur and Brian Patrick O’Toole wrote this monologue driven script with a heavy hand. John Putch did a better job with this film than Paul Johansson did with the first.
Overall: If you’ve got nothing to do, and it is Sunday, and you like Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged, maybe take a gander to see how different this film is from how you might have imagined the story when you read Rand’s book.