Atlas Shrugged: Part II opened in theaters today, and I was lucky enough to be in a market that had an early matinee this morning. Of course, I already had tickets, and was first in the theater… way too early.
Again, no spoilers but a few thoughts. Part II, “The Strike”, is anti-climactic. If you have read the book, you know this is the part of the story that builds a case for John Galt and his vision. If you haven’t read the book, and were confused by some of the things in Part I, your confusion will not much be helped by seeing Part II. Go see it anyway.
The cast included some surprising choices this time around (and it is an all-new cast). Actor Paul McCrane, of E.R. fame, was a surprisingly good choice for Mouch, but his character wasn’t developed enough. Mouch is the embodiment of crushing government, and they didn’t quite let Mr. MrCrane crush. I was, however, very happy with the casting of Esai Morales as Francisco d’Anconia this time around. The role of d’Anconia in this part of the story is far different from his role in Part I, and I think that Morales’ was probably the best acted in the entire film. Samantha Mathis was competent as Dagny, but her role was over-acted. I was conflicted through much of the movie in my opinion of Jason Beghe as Hank Rearden. I think he portrayed Rearden more accurately than Grant Bowler, but I do believe that Bowler was a more compelling Rearden. Patrick Fabian was a perfect choice as James Taggart, and acted it horribly. *sigh*.
Go see the movie. The implementation of Directive 10-289 is chilling, and eerily familiar in a very uncomfortable way. Expect that it will be overacted and the language a little stiff. Expect, if you have read the book, that there will be things left out that you wish had been left in, but know that Francisco gives his swoon-inducing money-speech (to an ineffective lead-up), and that was enough for me. More people need to hear those words.
Finally, there were some timely pop-culture references in the movie that I am not certain added to the story, but were fun to catch. There is a vague Titanic reference, some obvious Occupy Wall Street parallels, and TEA Party-style nuance (pay close attention to the protesters after Directive 10-289 is enacted!) It was fun to see some other familiar faces like Sean Hannity, Juan Williams, and Jonathan Hoenig, of Capitalist Pig Asset Management! And, to finally catch a glimpse of John Galt (D.B. Sweeney has the best line in the movie… “I am John Galt.” )