Transsiberian | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Trouble is among the passengers in Brad Anderson's train thriller

An American couple – Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) – opt to return from China on board the fabled Trans-Siberian Express. Roy's a rail-geek and falls easily into the low-rent camaraderie of the train. But, Jessie, more worldly, is troubled by their dubious young bunkmates, one of whom confesses to a bit of smuggling. Director Brad Anderson sets up a decent thriller-on-a-train – the snowy vastness outside the window, the shabby, claustrophobic interior, the whiff of danger mingles with a hint of sexual intrigue, an unexpected accident. Plus, we meet a Russian cop (Ben Kingsley) in the prologue, who is sure to surface again. Unfortunately, it all builds to a last reel that is truly off the rails – a strenuous bit of action-flick silliness seriously at odds with the more low-key, psychological thriller that precedes it. Kingsley, though, has a nice turn as the cop, and the scenery is lovely. Too bad Anderson, who also directed 2004's The Machinist, couldn't trust his narrative set-up to play out more naturally. Starts Fri., Sept. 19. Manor (AH)