More telling is the rating actual filmgoers give the film — a whopping 85 percent.
It’s no surprise that reviews for “Atlas Shrugged” have been largely negative. Professional reviewers are often agenda-driven and usually adhere to the politics of the newspaper or media they represent.
But why the enthusiastic audience response? Is it the spectacular car chases? Nope. Graphic sex scenes? None. Over-the-top violence? Not in this film.
Made on a budget miniscule by Hollywood standards, “Atlas” boasts neither superstars nor a household-name director. So what’s it all about? Ideas. Big ideas.
Based on Ayn Rand’s legendary 1957 novel of the same title, “Atlas Shrugged” is set an uncomfortably close five years into the future. America teeters on the brink of social and economic collapse as the economy steadily worsens and corruption bloats government at all levels. Uncannily, America’s most brilliant inventors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders have been dropping out of sight, disappearing entirely one by one.
Society has separated into two categories: the looters and moochers, confident of their entitlement, and the much-vilified producers and industrialists who struggle to keep the world’s economy afloat. “Who is John Galt?” has become the mantra of the bewildered, the angry and the indifferent.
Railroad tycoon Dagney Taggart (Taylor Schilling) falls into the second camp. Determined to save her family’s faltering network of railroads, she joins forces with Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler), the inventor of a new steel that is far more durable and lightweight than its competitors.
Taggart’s looter of a brother, James, and his bureaucrat friends in Washington try to thwart the producers at every turn, passing idiotic “anti dog-eat-dog” legislation that punishes individual companies for being more productive (and hence, more profitable) than their competitors.
While these bills are celebrated in the media as altruistic efforts to improve the economy and help the poor, they are powerful weapons in the corrupt politicians’ plan to acquire ever increasing power, and the only beneficiaries seem to be the looters themselves.
“Atlas Shrugged” is an important movie in our day and age. Many of the problems Rand foresaw in 1957 have come to pass: Americans stare in shock at massive corporate bailouts, sleazy politicians and an ever-more “benevolent” government threaten the self-sufficiency and personal freedom that made this country great.
The novel reaches over 1,000 pages, and “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” covers only the initial third. Even so, it stands on its own, leaving just the right amount of suspense to make viewers eagerly anticipate Parts II and III.
It celebrates freedom, independent thought and personal achievement. In a world that loves to vilify the rich and productive, “Atlas Shrugged” is a bold statement on behalf of the capitalist, do-it-yourself values that put America on the map. Can one movie save a civilization in decline? Who is John Galt?Contact Mary E. Mueller.