“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Brad Anderson / Actors: Woody Harrelson, Thomas Kretschmann, Kate Mara, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer ... / DVD released 2009-02-16 at Icon Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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I had a feeling of déjà vu when I started watching this, so I think it's one I may have started watching a couple of years ago and never finished it. I came across it more recently whilst browsing online and saw some familiar names in the cast so I thought I'd give it a go. Whilst I wasn't quite as taken by the ending, it was an engaging thriller none the less and a bit different to the norm in terms of the setting.
Transsiberian falls within the psychological thriller genre and was directed by Brad Anderson, a guy who has worked on several TV series and flicks over the years, such as The Machinist, and this experience comes through in this film. Set with Russia as it's backdrop, this movie is predominantly set on the Trans-Siberian railway and locations is passes through, focusing on a few key characters. We're initially introduced to Roy and Jessie, an American couple who are taking a touristy tour through the area. Roy, with his love of trains and coal burners, and Jessie, never without her camera, are travelling back to Europe from Japan, where they had done some aid work via their Church. The Trans-Siberian trip is a long one, and each sleeper car can bunk 4 people, so Roy and Jessie quickly meet their newest neighbours. Enter Abby and Carlos, seemingly friendly but with something sly lurking beneath, these two are more seasoned and world-worn than the fairly naïve Roy and Jessie, so the 4-some get to talking, sharing tales, exploring together. But something's not quite right and Jessie can feel it; it's not long before facades start to fall and suspicions start to arise about this other couple.
Unfortunately for Jessie and Roy, these two other travellers are not their only concern. Further down the track, so to speak, they run into a guy called Grinko, a Russian narcotics cop. Knowing how strict Russia can be and having seen first hand some of the torture and violence in the area, Jessie and Roy start to question what the heck they've unknowlingly got themselves stuck in the middle of.
That's basically the blurb, so I won't say any more and give anything away. The rest of the film then goes through uncovering what's happening, who people really are and what intentions lie beneath. This is truly a tale of a vacation gone wrong and makes you think twice about travelling to a foreign country and trusting those around you. Rather than outright violence at every turn or unnecessary gore and swearing, Transsiberian introduces atmosphere and tension through timing and tenterhooks; with time running out and characters not doing what you want them to do, you can feel yourself urging them on, but of course they just won't listen!
As for the tempo, the film moves at a reasonable pace throughout, but it can feel a tad slow at points I think because of the settings and the fact that the 'thriller' element is more subtle and built through atmosphere rather than anything too obvious. Having said that, there is still action and times of higher impact in what's happening, so it keeps us on our toes and awake.
What the film does seem to do is give a reasonably large role to is the character history and emotive elements. We learn about the background of some of them, such as Jessie, and the film gives that 'psychological' edge by doing so, helping us to understand the relationships and motives of those involved. I usually really enjoy that in a film and it was done to a decent enough level here, though I thought it could have had a bit more 'oomph' in terms of an emotive impact. Whilst I felt for some characters, I didn't think I really empathised or related as much as I could have.
The cast includes Emily Mortimer (as Jessie), the wonderful Woody Harrelson (Roy), Kate Mara (Abby), Eduardo Noriega (Carlos) and the fab Ben Kingsley (Grinko). These are some quite big names, but the film lacks some the Hollywood gloss and sparkle, which is good. Whilst most characters were quite enjoyable and reasonably believable to watch, some aspects of some characters irritated me a bit, but not so much that it put me off the film. Just times when I thought something was over-acted or too obvious, or just annoying. Whilst Eduardo was quite irritating, he none the less gave off the dubious and sly, underhand vibes that helped create the atmosphere and build suspicion.
The scenes were very well done and definitely transported you to a freezing cold Moscow, Russia and the Transsiberian railway. It felt quite genuine and down to earth, despite some Hollywood names, and so the setting gelled quite well with the characters and events that unfolded.
I wasn't so keen on the ending and felt the storyline was fairly blasé, but that also meant it was easy enough to watch because not a great deal of thought or concentration was required. Subtitles are used for non-English speaking parts, so that's probably the height of concentration needed. Otherwise, the film flowed quite smoothly and was engaging enough for me to watch without getting too restless. I also quite enjoyed the tension that was built up and the moments where you wonder if a character can beat the clock as time ticks away, so it was able to cultivate a sense of atmosphere and was well-grounded in the gritty, dangerous areas of the country they were in.
All in all, this is worthy of a watch for a thriller that takes you elsewhere for a while. Okay, so it's turning cold this time of year so you may not want to transport yourself to Moscow on a DVD night in, but it's engaging and has a cast that are enjoyable enough to watch.
DVD released 2009, running time 111 minutes, rated Certificate 15
Selling on Amazon for £4.27
Stars - Ben Kingsley and Woody Harrelson
Run Time -111 minutes
Blockbusters - 99p a night rental
Country - USA/European
Certificate - 15
There are two kinds of train movies. The one where its out of control and getting faster and faster, passengers unable to jump off it due to terrorists or mechanical error, explosions likely, Uncontrollable and Pelham 123 with Denzel Washington examples of, and the other where the train is on a long winding cross-country journey and in no particular hurry and so plenty of time for the main protagonist to hop on off at anytime as it trundles on, North by Northwest and Under Siege 2 to name but two, allowing different plot lines and situations to develop on the expanse of the train, the scenario with Transsiberian.
This is one of those new breed of movies that have foreign actors speaking in their native tongue and then English actors in theirs, here the rather precious Ben Kingsley trying his hand at Russian, making things all rather muddled up. 'Chocolat' with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp is a great example of that film hotpot. This multilingual mix is supposed to be about adding extra authenticity and atmosphere around established Hollywood stars in a foreign land to give it an arty texture. What it ends up as is a cost-cutting exercise by taking the actors to an obscure Eastern European location and saving on Union crew, catering and permit costs. It's cheaper to film the Lithuanian railway (where this was shot) than use Amtrak.
Woody Harrelson ... Roy
Emily Mortimer ... Jessie
Ben Kingsley ... Grinko
Kate Mara ... Abby
Eduardo Noriega ... Carlos
Thomas Kretschmann ... Kolzak
Trainspotter and religious Christian type Roy (Woody Harrelson) and his attractive and conservative young wife Jessie (Emily Mortimer) have decided to return from their volunteering stint in China by train, rattling their way across the icy tundra between Beijing and Moscow, officially the worlds longest train journey. Roy can enjoy the railway and the trains and Jessie can enjoy her photography hobby. She is not into trains but loves her husband as he is dependable and honest and if this makes him happy then why not.
On the train they hook up with an attractive young backpacking couple, Argentina Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and his American girlfriend Abby (Kate Mara), initially friendly, Carlos only to keen to flirt with Jessie, Abby none the wiser and Roy only has eyes for the trains.
Carlos and Abby may or may not be drug running but the early clues offered suggest that to be the case, using Roy and Jessie as cover because the cops are riding the rails looking for mules, four foreigners together better than two, Detective Grinko (Ben Kingsley) and his right hand man goon Detective Kolzak (Thomas Kretschmann) on their train looking for exactly that.
When Roy misses the train after alighting at a stop to look at some older engines on the sidings, so having to catch up with his wife later on the next train, the rest get off at the next station and stay the night in a small town so to meet up, where Carlos steps up his efforts to bed Jessie, she drawn to his charismatic Latin charm. But tragedy strikes and once back on the train Jessie's safe and secure world that happy-clappy Christian Roy offers has imploded and the cops suspect them all as drug mules and begin to turn the screw on what's left of the trip to find the merchandise, the pressure rising as the train bumps and grinds its way across the baron permafrost and through the haunted forests, the cops as tough as the landscapes, a Siberian prison breaking rocks where the Americans will end up if they cant wriggle their way out of a very tight corner.
I have to say I rather enjoyed this and by keeping things simple and building the tension and main protagonist's intentions nicely it's a rewarding two hour thriller. The plot does twist and creak like the railway tracks at times and one or two of those plot twist have neon lights flashing all over them with the signal crossing bell clanging just as loud. But that lack of complexity and perfunctory performances by the lead actors keeps it on the rails and you distracted and heading to where the film wants to take you. Yes, Ben Kingsley (real name Krishna Bhanji) is a bit of a ham on screen and still insists you address him as Sir Ben Kingsley on set as he chews away on the scenery some but he has that presence to play any sort of ambiguous foreign character with authority and so good fun here.
The film feels and looks right with the ice and snow adding the required levels of perils where foreigners waving their passports in these parts will only make them more of a target. The gentle blue filter on the lens to increase the hostility of the bleak Russian winter also works well to heighten tensions as the film grinds through the gears after a slow start. It is one third sub-titles though, guys, so don't expect an easy ride on the dialogue.
Brad Anderson, the director here, has moved from film to TV and then back again it shows, a man who knows how to pace and place everything and keep the viewer hooked on what it is a very straightforward plot. He builds in smart characters who can make it work. Andersen actually took this very train journey when he was a student and so knows how to go about exploiting that tension of loneliness of being in a foreigner in a foreign land in a hostile situation under suspicion, the train going oh so very slowly towards the border and so freedom always a long way off.
Transsiberian was released on the same day as The Dark Knight and so disappeared sharpish from the box-office rankings, doing just $5 million back from its $15 million budget, very much left to scrape it back on DVD. But don't let that put you off guys as this delivers for its budget and entertains in all the right places, suitably enigmatic for you to stay with it and so a thirst for the dénouement..
Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (22,910 votes)
Metacritic.com - 72% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 80% critics approval rating
The NY Times - "Transsiberian starts in neutral, taking the time to introduce its characters, and then goes from second into high like greased lightning. I was a little surprised to notice how thoroughly it wound me up. This is a good one.
East Bay Express - "All the actors get their tickets punched, and the screenplay doesn't insult anyone's intelligence"
The Times - Hitchcock would be proud of this trainbound suspense thriller with Woody Harrelson playing against type. A first-rate story, great action and great direction. Take the trip!
Washington Post - "All in all, the film is an excellent, if modest, alternative for moviegoers who have been blockbustered into submission this summer"
The Independent - "Transsiberian is a deeply engrossing film from the get go. It sucked me in with a simple, yet often overlooked, idea - interesting characters"
- Cast & credits -
- Story -
An American couple, Roy and Jessie, take the famous Trans-Siberian train journey from China to Moscow. While onboard they meet an American woman and her Spanish boyfriend and they seem to get on well, then the boyfriend, Carlos, who has a criminal past, starts to make moves on Jessie and things take a sinister turn, ultimately placing Roy and Jessie in danger with a Russian detective determined to find the truth at any cost. Its hard to go into much detail about the plot without really giving away too much of the story but that should give you an idea of what its about anyway.
- Thoughts & Opinions -
I quite enjoyed this movie as it had a few interesting plot twists and it wasn't too predictable. I particularly liked Jessie as a character, I thought she was played quite well by Emily Mortimer, playing a curious tourist that takes a photo diary of everywhere she visits with her SLR camera.
The movie was slightly slow to start but once it really 'gets going' pace wise (around about 45-50 minutes into the movie, I'd say), it is quite chilling (pardon the pun given the part of the world its set in!). Like I say there definitely are some interesting plot twists, indeed as the story developed I felt that I could predict the outcome only to be proven wrong, which was quite interesting. I did, however, feel that the main let down of this movie was the lack of any real character development - we learn that certain characters have some clearly quite complicated backgrounds but we don't really learn much about them, which is a shame. Of course, people could also say that there are some fairly typical stereotypes present in the movie, yes its an American movie set in Russia so the Russians aren't all portrayed as good guys and so on but other than that, its not too bad.
There are some tense action scenes in the movie, although there aren't really any special effects as such but its still exciting and intriguing enough to not be boring and indeed it felt like I was watching a novel, in that I thought it was quite a well thought out script, with the different plot twists and everything, it doesn't entirely rely on visual effects to keep you watching, which is good.
I found it interesting to watch in terms of me being female and seeing how Jessie reacted in whats really the key scene in the movie, with Carlos' advances becoming more aggressive and her being in a remote area with no-one else to help, it made me question what I would do in the same situation. I guess its like I think they say in the movie, you shouldn't trust people you meet while travelling in a foreign country, although that should be common sense, it definitely applies in this movie.
I should probably warn you that there are one or two torture scenes as well as some strong language used in the movie, so its perhaps not one for the very squeamish, though it did add to the suspense of the movie. I was afraid that the ultimate outcome of the movie may let me down but actually I thought that the final scene added to the intrigue and it leaves you questioning things, its another, final plot twist you could say, which was quite good I think.
- Would I Recommend It? -
Yes I would recommend this movie as its quite chilling/thrilling once the story really gets going and the characters are interesting. The story has a few twists which adds to the intrigue and all in all, I enjoyed watching it, so I would recommend it. It isn't a perfect movie, if there is such a thing, in that I felt that more background information on the characters would have helped it, we only gain enough of a glimpse to realise that certain characters come from a troubled past but little is learnt about that and also if your critical you could be irked by one or two typical American stereotypes but otherwise, its a good movie.
I hope you found my review useful, thanks for any and all r/r/c's. This review is also posted on Ciao UK under the same username.
I'd never heard of Transsiberian until it was shown on Sky this week so I thought I might as well watch it as it seemed to have a pretty good list of stars in it - Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Eduardo Noriega and also thrown into the mix was Woody Harrelson, who seemed a strange choice of actor for a thriller but in retrospect fits the goofy, almost naive character of Roy.
Briefly the story follows a couple who had been volunteers in China, taking the 8 day long Transsiberian Express from Beijing to Moscow. All sorts of problems ensue when they inadvertently get caught up in a drug trafficking ring. Lots of suspense and action follow as the innocent couple try to escape from the various unsavoury characters and situations that are sprung upon them.
Part of the reason why I was taken by this film is the amazing scenery. The film is good and definitely worth a watch, but the scenery is breathtaking. The starkness of the various places they pass through and the people that they meet cannot help but draw you into the dark goings on of the plot. It's the perfect location to film such a thriller.
In short, this film is well worth seeing, with some quality acting by Ben Kingsley and Emily Mortimer and the scenery will take your breath away.
As a long-time fan of Ben Kingsley, I had meaning to see Transsiberian for a while. I had heard a lot of good things about it, but never quite found the time to sit down and watch it. That opportunity finally came this week when it debuted on Sky, and I have since bought the DVD on the strength of that first look.
"In Russia, we have expression. "With lies, you may go ahead in the world, but you may never go back."
Kingsley plays a hardened and enigmatic detective in the narcotics division of the Russian police force. His beat encompasses the Tran-Siberia Express, a railway service between Beijing and Moscow that takes an epic seven days from start to finish - a route popular with heroin smugglers. We are introduced to his character Detective Grinko very early on, but he doesn't reprise his role until much later in the film.
At the heart of the film are an American couple Jessie (Emily Mortimer) and Roy (Woody Harrelson), returning from a Christian mission in China, who decide to take the railway instead of a flight - partly because of his boyish love of trains, and partly because they fancy the adventure. Early in their journey, they meet another, younger, couple who end up sharing their train compartment.
Abby (Kate Mara) is a displaced young American travelling the world, and her partner is a flirtatious, unsettling Spaniard named Carlos (Eduardo Noriega). Despite their differing backgrounds, they become friends, mostly it seems because there is little to do on the train and they all speak English.
The film meanders on until, at a stop-over in Irkutsk, Roy, distracted by some antique steam locomotives in the rail yard, fails to re-board the train in time. His worried wife decides to get off at the next stop and wait for the next train - which won't arrive until the next afternoon - necessitating an overnight stop at a town in the middle of nowhere.
Her travelling companions insist on alighting with her, ostensibly to keep her company and ensure her safety, although such is the relationship between them, that you're not entirely sure if all is as it seems. The film then takes an unexpected twist - one of many - leading us to into the dark heart of this well-told and absorbing film.
THE MAIN ROLES
Harrelson plays a big-hearted nice guy and all round good egg who initially comes across as a bit naïve and childish, but who ends up being a much deeper and complex character by the end of the film. Despite the changes his character endures, he is the only figure in the film who remains deeply principled throughout, refusing to stray from his moral compass despite the danger to himself and those around him. I found his character easy to relate to, and despite annoying me initially, I grew to like him.
Mortimer, as his wife, is less likeable. It is clear that her heart isn't in the trip. Early on, we are made aware that they want different thing from their relationship. She is clearly indulging her husband's fancy for trains without taking any enjoyment from it herself - at least not the machinery - instead, as a keen photographer, she draws her inspiration from people, rather than objects, and fills her time taking countless photos at every stage of the trip. Despite giving us the initial impression of a clean cut, clean-living woman, something is clearly amiss and we soon find out that she has a much darker side - a history she is clearly not proud of but is struggling to keep in the past. You sense that she is not only questioning why she is where she is, but also why she is married to who she is.
Carlos, as the slightly sleazy and charming latin wide boy, senses this fissure in their relationship and is keen to take advantage. There is an obvious sexual tension between Jessie and Carlos from the beginning - it's hard to miss and it comes so early on that I give nothing away by revealing it here. This commences a "will they/won't they" tease which plays out in a very unexpected fashion. The character is well played by Noriega who does a great job of getting the balance right with his portrayal.
Abby, a Seattle native who has been on the road for two years, is the most enigmatic of the quartet and you are not quite sure how and why she and Carlos got together. Their relationship, although clearly sexual, remains ambiguous to the viewer until much later in the film. Jessie is determined to see the best in her and is convinced that she is a good girl at heart, rather than the "chica mala" she portrays herself as being.
Kingsley, as Detective Grinko, plays his role to perfection. Not only does he speak Russian in the role (almost flawlessly according to a fluent friend), his mannerisms and attitude are also spot on. He goes from brooding to friendly and back in a heartbeat - business and pleasure seem to be the same side of the coin for him. His face and his posture rarely betray his thoughts - a stark contrast to Roy, who wears his heart on his sleeve throughout. I know which one I'd rather play poker against, and it's not the Russian.
Indeed, Transsiberian is a film full of stark contrasts. In wide, outside shots, the train itself is often the only splash of colour against a white, expansive and desolate landscape - broken only by stony mountains and the occasional remote outpost. Some of the scenery is simply stunning. Conversely, the inside of the train is vibrant - if not in colour, then certainly with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
However, with a finite amount of room, privacy is virtually non-existent, with nosey officials, tea ladies and conductors seemingly unaware of the concept of personal space. This gives an oppressive sense of claustrophobia to proceedings which works well with the atmosphere of tension carefully and thoughtfully built by the director (Brad Anderson - perhaps best known for "The Machinist" released in 2005 starring an emaciated Christian Bale).
With its ensemble cast and focus on people rather than FX and/or action, at times Transsiberian is a well-told story that is fulfilling and frustrating in equal measure - the main frustration - and this is not really a negative - is that just when you think you have it figured out, it outsmarts you.
The relationship between Abby and Carlos. although ambiguous, is believable. However, the rapport between Jessie and Roy is a little less natural, and you find yourself rooting for him a bit more than you do for her. There are one or two moments in the film that make you sit up and think "surely not! - he/she can't be that naïve and stupid", but in retrospect, when you think about the demons driving these characters, it ends up making good (if not perfect) sense.
This neat and tidy little thriller that will keep you guessing for most of its 110 minute running time. Given some of the content (violence and sex scenes) the 15 certificate is just about right. It is currently selling for £3.98 on Amazon, and for that price, it's almost as cheap to buy as it is to rent. Unfortunately, the film and some commentaries is all you get for your money, but it's hard to complain given the price.
Transsiberian is an entertaining, well-paced suspense thriller. It has some flaws, and takes some time to build up to its payoff - but your patience will be rewarded. It's a likeable film which makes some of the plot holes easy to overlook, especially given the superior acting of the main protagonists. As a fan of Kingsley, I was not disappointed.
© Hishyeness 2010
This film was on tv the other evening and we recorded it and watched it last night. I dont have the dvd so it is only a review of the actual film.
The film is about an American couple called Roy and Jessie (played by Woody Harrrelson and Emily Mortimer) who are in China and have decided that to get home they will take the train to Moscow and then get home from there. Roy, who loves trains, is the one who suggested the trip as he thinks it will do their relationship good to be alone together and he thought his wife would enjoy the travelling.
The journey will take over a week as it is a long jouney and they have to travel through the cold desolate areas of Siberia.
On the train the couple meet up with another couple, a Spaniard called Carlos and his American girlfriend called Abby and they find themselves caught up in things they could never expect and their lives end up in danger.
I cant give out any more of the plot than that really as it has a lot of things happening that you would not be expecting to happen. It would be best just to watch the film and see for yourself.
Also in the film is Ben Kingsley who plays a Russian detective who gets on the train later on. Ben is really good in this role and you can totally believe he is this sinister Russian detective with more to him than you see.
Woody Harrelson is a bit soft in the part of Roy, I dont particularly like him as an actor anyway and thought he was way over the top with his acting in this. He got a bit annoying after a while. Emily Mortimer was very good as Jessie though and you could really believe in her character.
The other couple were played by Kate Mara and Eduardo Noriega and they both played their parts well.
The beginning of the film was a bit slow and you were waiting for the action to start but once it did start you were immersed in the story and it did keep you glued to it after that. The story was very surprising which made it more interesting.
The film was directed by Brad Anderson and it is rated a 15 in the UK. It runs for 111 minutes.
I am giving this film 3 stars out of 5 as I think it could have been better and I didnt like Woody Harrelson in the film as he didnt fit in properly.
Transsiberian is a film starring Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer as a couple of volunteers who have been living in Beijing. When their volunteer work is over they take the Transsiberian train through China and Russia to Moscow where they will catch their flight back to the US.
The Transsiberian train takes a week to get from Beijing to Moscow and the characters befriend a young couple who are sharing their cabin. The young couple come across as untrustworthy and it appears only a matter if time until something bad happens...
And it's not long until it does... Harrelson gets left behind at one of the interim stations meaning that his wife is left alone with the young couple.
I won't spoil what happens next in the film as there's a fairly big plot twist around halfway through - it certainly threw me as I was expecting something very different to happen.
Transsiberian is billed as a tense thriller, but to be honest I found it a little disappointing - it wasn't particularly tense and it took a long time to get going. There was lots of build-up but little actual action, although the twist was very good and very unexpected.
The Russian setting means we get to see some wonderful snowy scenery which looks beautiful in places.
The cast was solid if unspectacular, with Woody Harrelson unable to reach the heights if his White Men Can't Jump days.
At an hour and 50 minutes it's not overly-long, but I find it difficult to recommend this as there's many better films out there.
If you do want to watch it you can buy it from Play.com for £3.99 or catch it on Sky Movies.
This film is about a backpacking couple, played by Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer. Whilst on their journeys in Russia, particularly on a train in Moscow, they meet a couple who they befriend. Through a turn of circumstance however things take a wrong turn and as if he is sort sort of omen, Ben Kingsleys arrival, lets just say brings about a concern for the chances of their survival.
This film, in only a very small way reminds me of Hostel, because it shows Americans going into Europe and getting themselves in a somewhat sticky situation. Except of course in comparison this film is only like warm in terms or the relative danger that they put themselves in unwittingly.
Harrelson does quite well here as a good guy taking in a bad girl kind of role, in a word they try to portray him as a homely sort of chap which to me is quite comedic because of his appearance in Natural Born Killers as a serial murderer. Emily Mortimer to me is a slightly far-fetched choice to play a bad girl gone good but still she does an ok performance, not much more.
What this film attempts to do is create a thriller with enough intrigue to make you feel invested in the main chracters welfare. It does chieve this in the main and you do feel the thrill of the thriller to a certain extent. The problem is though not the delivery, more that an audience of such a movie would probably not be bothered as most people are so de-sensitised to danger. Still in itself it performs well as a movie, but not necessarily making you sit back in awe and amazement.
Transsiberian is a fairly unknown yet quality film with a bunch of top stars in bith the lead and supporting roles, the film revolves around a couple on a trip from China to Moscow, the couple, who are members of a 'church', one is a keen photographer, the other enthusiastic about trains, as such they decided to take the siberian express all the way from Beijing to Moscow, a good 6 day trip.
Along the way they meet a young couple, a Spanish man hitting on the photographer and a quiet woman from Seattle who has run from home and hooked up with the Spaniard...unfortunatly for the photographer doesn't yet know that the Spaniard traveller has more than one surprise in store for her...
The cast, as mentioned is of high quality, Ben Kinglsey is brilliant as a Russian detective head of the narcotics division on the look for the spanish man who was carrying some rather usual Russian dolls..., of course, for me at least, the biggest attraction to this film for me was Woody Harrelson, he's been in a number of high quality films yet doesn't seem to be a very big actor, why this is I don't know, he's brilliant in everything i've seen him in and he's no different in this, Emily Mortimer plays the photographer and Kata Mara plays the quite American, partner to Carlos.
The plot is solid, a young couple meet a slightly older couple on a train, share a cabin for 6 days and become friends, until Roy (Harrelson) forgets to board his train at a scheduled stop, from this moment it's all down hill for Mortimer, who is hit on before Carlos' russian dolls are hidden in her bag, obviously, this means trouble, especially when the 2 (Carlos and Mortimer) go alone to an abandoned building in deep siberian territory. There's no real holes with this plot, perhaps the only thing I found slightly unrealistic was the door that was found by Roy...i'm not sure what kind of detective leaves a couple under interrorgation alone that doesn't know of escape routes...
The dvd I got was filled with...no special features, just the sound options, although this is what you get with buying cheap versions of films.
Overall, I was impressed with this film for a rather unknown film, the cast is brilliant, perhaps the only downside would be the middle where it all slows down just a little as the kiss chase starts between Carlos and Mortimers character, perhaps the ending happens all too quickly as well, there's no real time from the moment of the empty train till...well the end, it takes up a rather small segment of the film. Thats the only thing that stops this from being any higher than a 4, A very good film for those who aren't all action seekers, a very good drama and definatly worth a watch.
There's something very robust and loveable about films that harken back to the simpler days of cinema, where the likes of Alfred Hitchcock crafted deceptively simple films that sometimes hid a more incisive narrative beneath. Transsiberian embodies some of the very best of Hitchcock's qualities into a modern, noirish thriller with a great script and cast.
Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer), an American couple, are using the Transsiberian railway to travel from Beijing to Moscow. During their long journey, they make friends with a Spanish man, Carlos (Eduardo Noriega), and his Seattle-born girlfriend, Abby (Kate Mara). Roy warms to them and is very jovial in spending time with them, whilst Jessie is a little more cold and unassuming. However, when Roy accidentally misses their train after a routine stop, Jessie is forced to spend time with them as Roy attempts to make his way back. So kickstarts a series of events - Carlos and Abby are not at all what they appear to be, and instead are trying to smuggle drugs on the railway.
Meanwhile, some rather unsavoury individuals, an investigator named Ilya Grinko (Ben Kingsley) and his partner Kolzak (Thomas Kretschmann) give chase, hoping to secure the drugs and bring them all to justice, as they presume that, in befriending them, that they are in collusion with the smugglers. Such kickstarts a crackling film that has suspense to spare, and Hitchcock would no doubt be proud.
Frequently touted as "Hitchcockian", Transsiberian is one of the best-constructed suspense thrillers in years. With agreeable performances from Kingsley, Harrelson and Mortimer in particular, the film is able to survive its third-act convolutions thanks largely to its unrelenting intensity.
Transsiberian is a film that somehow missed my radar and doesn't seem too popular (just one review!?), I'd say it was one of the best films made last year that I saw. The film starts off in a cold Vladivostok at an ambiguous murder scene, then moves onto a seemingly innocent section with an American couple doing charity work in China with children, they finish off their trip in style by taking the Trans Siberian train to Moscow from Beijing. Roy (Woody Harrelson) - a train enthusiast is overjoyed, his wife Jessie (Emily Mortimer) seems a bit edgy.
This film gets crazier by the minute, particularly starting from the moment when the young well-travelled couple Abby (kate mara) and Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) board the train. From then onwards the film is exciting and full of suspense with several story lines which cover the topics of love, relationships, drugs and money.
Ben Kingsley gives a brilliant performance as a Russian Police Officer called Grinko. This film is like a very classy version of Hostel and while it does show Russia in a slightly bad light, particularly the trans siberian, I do think it fairly portrays a lot of Russian attitudes and organised crime. Not only do the actors do amazing jobs of their characters and is the storyline well paced but this film also takes place in the beautiful and sometimes grey settings of Manchuria and Siberian towns, most of which was actually filmed in China (Manchuria) and Lithuania. There are lots of exciting parts, as well as some gruesome scenes - in fact this is a definite no no for kids or the squeamish!
This is a must watch film, it's exciting and you won't regret it!