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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/06/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 111 mins

Enjoyable train-based thriller with strong performances, gorgeous photography and some enjoyable dashes of Hitchcock scattered liberally throughout.

What's it all about?
Directed by Brad Anderson, Transsiberian stars Woody Harrelson as train enthusiast Roy, who's travelling to Moscow on the Trans-Siberian railway with his wife Jessie (Emily Mortimer), after a church-based charity trip to China. However, their holiday soon takes a turn for the worse when they meet dodgy-but-attractive fellow passengers Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and Abby (Kate Mara) and Roy mysteriously disappears.

The Good
Woody Harrelson is excellent as Roy, an essentially likeable nerd who gets on with everyone he meets. There's also strong support from both Eduardo Noriega and Kate Mara, while Ben Kingsley has fun with his Russian accent as Detective Ilya Gringko, even if he's not really stretching himself. The only problem is that, as good as she is, Emily Mortimer is slightly miscast as Jessie, as it's a little difficult to buy her bad girl past.

The script is excellent, borrowing liberally from train-based thrillers in general and from Hitchcock movies in particular. It's also pleasingly chaotic – the plot takes several different twists and turns and you're never quite sure where it's going to end up.

The Great
The film also looks spectacular, courtesy of stunning location work, authentic train sequences and gorgeous, snow-bound cinematography by Xavi Gimenez, who previously collaborated with Anderson on The Machinist. In addition, Anderson orchestrates some terrifically suspenseful sequences (a scene involving Jessie's digital camera is a particular highlight) and creates an extremely unsettling atmosphere, as you're never sure just how far each character is prepared to go.

Aside from everything else, Transsiberian is an excellent entry into the twin sub-genres of the Train Movie and the Snow Movie.

Worth seeing?
In short, Transsiberian is an enjoyable, smartly directed and nicely acted thriller that provides decent helpings of suspense, some great scenery and some unexpected turns along the way. Recommended.

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Content updated: 19/10/2019 18:40

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