‘Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?’: Nobody needs to care

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Kristoffer Polaha in “Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?” | ATLAS DISTRIBUTION CO.

By Bill Goodykoontz/Gannett News Service

We get it, we get it: Capitalism is good, government is bad.

But “Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?” is worse.

The third film in the trilogy based on Ayn Rand’s novel once again recasts almost all the roles and swaps directors. Evidently James Manera, who also contributed to the screenplay, was hired for his complete and utter lack of subtlety.

Nice hammer, dude. Whack me over the head again, would you?

Some of Rand’s fans will carp, as they must, about an evaluation of any depiction of her ideas that is not reverent, complaints they consider a merry skip down the road to socialism. What they seem to miss is that a movie this badly made could be appealing only to them, at best, and will win no converts.

Then again, that’s probably the point, as it is with commentators like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, both of whom appear here as themselves. Which is fitting, because seeing this after a couple of hours of watching Fox News and complaining about the government over dinner would be a dream date for some folks.

As the film begins, Dagny Taggart (played this time by Laura Regan) crashes the party, literally, in a plane in Galt’s Gulch, the valley where the mysterious John Galt (Kristoffer Polaha) has set up shop, along with great-thinking minds of science and industry. Here, we see, they are free of the intrusive hands of government. At a cocktail party Dagny chats with a former real-estate tycoon, who says he made loans only to people who could pay him back, and for that, he was called heartless. But when the government made him offer loans to people he knew couldn’t pay him back, that’s when he stepped out of society and moved here.

A like-minded doctor says the same sort of thing, after using a gizmo he invented to examine Dagny after her crash, noting that “it’s amazing what you can accomplish without red tape.”

Meanwhile, back in society, Head of State Thompson (Peter Mackenzie) is running things into the ground, creating an all-powerful government state about to unleash all manner of torture and trouble on people. The problem, someone tells Dagny, is that “they think it’s OK to take from one man and give to another.”

Manera loads up his film with loads more heavy-handed symbolism, including but not limited to Galt in a Christ-on-the-cross pose. As for the dialogue, well, it’s hard to pick a favorite exchange, but I think I’ll go with this one, uttered by a security guard Dagny is going to shoot if he won’t let her pass:

“I’m not supposed to decide! I’m just an average guy! I’m not supposed to make decisions about my life!”

Of course not. You’re supposed to let people like Hannity and Beck make them for you. Right?

It’s kind of funny to hear Beck, after Galt’s speech that turns the tide of the world his way, say that finally they have someone who is delivering the message the proper way — quietly, without hysterics.

Subtlety is not a strong suit in politics, or in “Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?” And both try to beat you into submission.

[s3r star=3/4]

Atlas Distribution Co. presents a film directed by James Manera and written by Manera, Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro, based on the novel by Ayn Rand. Rated PG-13 (for some violence and a scene of sexuality). Opens Friday at local theaters.

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