Grinko: In Russia, we have expression. "With lies, you may go ahead in the world, but you may never go back." Do you understand this, Jessie?
"You can't escape your lies."
Transsiberian is a great thriller from Brad Anderson. He may be most remembered for The Machinist when all is said and done, but this may be his best film. Elements of some Hitchcock thrillers come into play in this railway thriller. The film starts out slow, building up with character development and the start of a new friendship. We don't really have a sense of what's going to happen next, but when something does happen, the film builds in intensity and tension. Everything Anderson was trying to accomplish with a slow start ends up working perfectly as the story comes full circle.
A married couple, Ray and Jesse, are traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway when they meet another couple. The four hit it off and become vacation buddies. When Jesse is left at one of the stops the other three get off to wait for him. That's when everything changes and the film becomes a thriller. When Ray and Jesse are reunited on the train, a new character comes into their lives. He is Grinko, a Russian detective.
Besides beautiful landscape and a great thriller setting, Transsiberian is held up high by a great cast. Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley are the easy standouts, but Woody Harrelson, Kate Mara, and Eduardo Noriega give pretty good performances themselves. The two couples becoming friends sort of feels like the couples from A Perfect Getaway. The actors play their characters beautifully and really make it hard to get a sense of what will happen next.
The movie doesn't really have anything holding it back. There's a good director, with a good cast and a good story. Add a nice score and beautiful cinematography into the equation and you're left with a highly involving and enjoyable film. If the movie has a problem, it's in how it is wrapped up. It's all a bit too optimistic in my opinion, but it doesn't take away from just how well made and executed the movie is.