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Transsiberian Reviews

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Anthony L

Super Reviewer

January 23, 2013
I really like Brad Anderson, he's a guy who really understands film and doesn't reply on cheap tricks. Transsiberian is a brilliantly crafted film, its well written and beautifully directed. However, as much as I appreciated the time spent on character development, the 'eclectic' cast just doesn't work. I can think of a hundred better choices than Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer, even Ben Kingsley's performance was questionable. He can do scary too, he was terrifying in Sexy Beast, but never convincing (or scary) here. I don't think much of Kate Mara anyway, I suppose she was alright in this role but again, others could have done better. The cast is my only real gripe about the film, that and the over the top music and cliched Innocent American vs. evil non-American (attention all Americans, never leave America, it's not safe etc) but unfortunately these are big enough gripes for me to have not enjoyed it as much as I really wanted to.

Super Reviewer

August 5, 2012
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. 

Super Reviewer

October 15, 2009
You can't escape your lies.

Good Film! This film is great watch with a solid narrative structure and with honest performances from all actors involved, hopefully you'll find Transsiberian a worthwhile watch as I did.

Americans abroad. Roy and Jessie finished a volunteer stint in China. He loves trains, so they go home via the Trans-Siberia Express. There are strains in the relationship, including her past. They meet Carlos, a Spaniard, traveling with Abby, a young American. Carlos keeps close to Jessie, and when Roy is left behind and waits a day for the next train so he can catch up, Jessie and Carlos take a trip into the dead of winter to photograph a ruined church. Carlos may be running drugs, so, later, when Roy catches up and introduces Jessie to his new pal, an English speaking Russian narcotics detective, he's the last person Jessie wants to see. Will the Siberian desolation be their undoing?
Jens S

Super Reviewer

January 15, 2009
This calm, increasingly menacing thriller tells the story of an US-American couple traveling from China to Moscow on the famous train, making the wrong kind of friends. While the picture this film paints of Russia and the Trans-Siberian express may not exactly be the most flattering, it comes across as realistic and makes for a very densely weaved atmosphere. Just when you think that your protagonists may not be likable or "good" enough to cheer for them, the spiral pulls you with it and you can't help but wonder what'll happen next. The fact that all characters here are grey and even the rather good people make questionable decisions may put off some viewers, but it makes the film a lot more realistic. The final third abandons that tendency in favor of the more generic thriller elements, but that doesn't make the film any less exciting. In the end it's even oddly satisfying. Recommended for fans of a slower, unusual and less preachy approach to crime and murder.
Dean !

Super Reviewer

August 7, 2009
A good revival of the old thriller aboard a train film. It starts fairly slow but the second half soon intensifies with a mix of suspense, action and tone. It will grip you and draw you in, wondering what twist will come next. A solid cast give good performances and the setting and location add to the drama of the film.
Ross C

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2008
Classic thriller, nice scenes, good actors though Emily wasn't a convincing American, why couldn't she have been given an English role?
Lady D

Super Reviewer

January 3, 2009
A slow moving Thriller, with perhaps a fairly believable storyline, in that it's not over the top, like a lot of Action films or too horific in a backpacking/travelling Horror type way.

Emily Mortimer played a good role as did Ben Kingsley as usual.

A watchable film.
Jason R

Super Reviewer

October 29, 2010
Wow. Legit. I think I held my breath for the entire movie. One of the best movies I have ever seen.
Alexis N

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2010
If you don't have time to feel like you've been watching a movie for hours and hours, this isn't for you. It took a really long time to build up. But it's pretty crazy in the Hitchcock way, it has you wondering what will happen through the whole thing. You think you know, but it twists and you're lost again. It was good, but slow.

Super Reviewer

July 13, 2009
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley, Eduardo Noriega, Kate Mara, Thomas Kretschmann

Director: Brad Anderson

Summary: An American couple (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) seeking to smooth out their rough marriage buys a ticket on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. But a chance meeting with two other passengers ends in accidental murder and high intrigue. Ben Kingsley and Thomas Kretschmann co-star as a pair of Russian police officers who are trying to solve the baffling case in Brad Anderson's taut and gritty travel thriller.

My Thoughts: "A great suspense-thriller. It's an edge of your seat flick, and it really keeps you at bay on how it will end. I liked it a lot more then I thought I would. I don't know if I really liked Woody Harrelson in this. He didn't do a bad job in the film or anything of that nature, I just feel maybe he wasn't the best choice for that character. I really can't stand him with hair. He always looks like he's wearing a bad hair piece. I prefer him bald. Emily Mortimer was really good in this and pretty much the main character of the film. Ben Kingsley was great as always. The acting, the story, the cinematography, and the suspense was all there which made this one of the better thrillers and movies I have seen of late. Definitely worth the rental."
Alice S

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2010
Quite eerie and thrilling, but yes, I did scream at Jessie about ten times, "The truth will set you freeeee!!!!" Also, I don't think Emily Mortimer does a convincing American accent. Her e's and r's are a bit telling. On an unrelated note: I don't know too much about her range, but Kate Mara seems to have the look of Lisbeth for the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
familiar s

Super Reviewer

June 8, 2010
The movie keeps changing gears from interesting to tedious as it keeps shifting from over-dramatic to dramatic to realistic to idiotic. It'd have been much better had they concentrated on one (or 2 at the most; some movies can afford flexibilities given their plot, this wasn't one of those types) aspect & maintained the consistency. Finally, while it could have been far better, it's quite okay for what it is & watching it once won't hurt much, I guess.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

April 2, 2010
A very effective Hitchcockian thriller that starts off as a modest drama, taking a good time to develop its characters carefully, then switches unexpectedly to exhilarating tension as the characters find themselves more and more trapped in an unbearable situation.
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

February 22, 2010
Transsiberian is an above average thriller. The plot rarely went where I expected, and the most of the characters were shades of grey, instead of clearly good or evil.

Besides the story, I also enjoyed the setting a great deal. The snow-covered terrain of Siberia (yes, I know that's not really where the movie was filmed), the trains, and the small railroad towns really lended to the subdued tone of the movie. Add all that to the fine cast (I'm seriously starting to love Emily Mortimer), and you have a slightly different than usual take on the genre. Transsiberian isn't great, but it's certainly good.

Super Reviewer

December 29, 2009
Derailed by some severe implausabilities this film still manages to entertain, especially during the first half where it does a masterful job of capturing the claustrophobic feel of traveling on the Transsiberian express, while weaving its mystery and suspense.

Woody Harrelson's too true rube is the anchor around which the other charactors are allowed to be vague and suspicious, but even he has to land some pretty big fish - as in inexplicably missing reboarding the train in Itkursk (plausable, but likely???).

Mortimer's bored former wild child is just plain wrong - whether it's a case of her delivery or the lines and charactorization itself, alternationg between stone cold and calculating and manic hysteria - all ringing false (especially the linchpin scene with Carlos inside the abandoned church - just wrongheaded in so many many ways, leading her to have to later try to explain with falsehoods what played false to begin with).

Even the tag ending played false, as the "innocent" smuggler's tagalong who is barely able to walk, manages to trudge miles out into the snow to find the church - this is a nice tag, but totally unbelievable, especially as in the scene just before it the US state dept. guy tells Mortimer that the girl is to be transported back to the US as soon as she is healthy enough to travel... oopsy!)

I will say that Ben Kingsly is... Ben Kingsley, masterful in portraying a Russian narcotics detective who may have a second agenda.

It is his performance and a fine first half of the film that make it all the more unfortunate that the 2nd half gets really sloppy and improbable. Why would such masterful cons running a covert operation than steal a train - I mean you can't get much more obvious.

Super Reviewer

November 17, 2008
"Kill off all my demons, Roy, and my angels might die, too."

A Trans-Siberian train journey from China to Moscow becomes a thrilling chase of deception and murder when an American couple encounters a mysterious pair of fellow travelers.

The kind of film that really drives me nuts: it starts off great, continues to be so for a majority of its run, and then just messes things up completely. Transsiberian is a thriller starring Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer as an American couple who are traveling from Beijing to Moscow on train after completing some charity work. They meet a young couple (Kate Mara and Eduardo Noriega) who seem interesting, but who may be up to no good. It'd be wrong to say more about the plot. The film is effectively gripping through most of its run. Emily Mortimer, one of my favorite working young actresses, has been unfortunate not to have many starring roles up to now, but Transsiberian gives her a nice juicy one to sink her teeth into. This is all her movie. Harrelson is okay, but his character is nowhere near as complex as hers. Ben Kingsley also stars, and is as good as ever. As I suggested earlier, there's a twist in the final half hour which harms the picture irrevocably. The film goes from being a crackerjack thriller, truly something Hitchcock might have produced, to a very silly one (which Hitchcock might have produced, too, but only on a bad day). And the final scene makes no sense whatsoever. Still, even when the film gets into the silly territory, it's rather entertaining.

Super Reviewer

August 8, 2009
Dumb and insulting hack-fest. Innocent naive americans meet evil foreigners, every russian character is either poor, yelling or with an army suit and full of guns. Every time an evil foreigner is about to do something we get this EVIL music just to make sure we're not dumb enough not to get it. Every cliche of every suspense/thriller/horror movie ever made is here, but multiplied by ten. Coincidences? Characters making dumb decisions to advance the idiotic plot? You name it.

Super Reviewer

June 18, 2009
Serviceable thriller but Harrelson is miscast and it doesn't push any boundaries.
William S

Super Reviewer

May 30, 2009
It does tread a very thin line between homage and out and & out rip off of Hitchcock but they pull it off and it works extremely well. It deserves 5 stars just for being a cracking thriller set on a train (something we just don't seem to get very often anymore). The moral dilemmas it's characters encounter and, more importantly, how they react to them is worthy of Patricia Highsmith (especially one murder I didn't see coming). And I loved the marvelously icey cold cynical ending (oh, all that snow!), as it cleverly reminds us (in case you hadn't noticed) of the double mcguffin and so utterly dismissing any expectations that we are getting a sentimental close.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

December 2, 2008
A decent movie, predictable but with a decent twist. It's sort of scary, but the heroine is written so badly (she's so stupid!) that what is supposed to be dramatic ends up just dragging on. Neat idea, wasn't ideally executed though.
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