The first Atlas Shrugged movie was merely good (if faulty); Atlas Shrugged Part 2 (2012) is terrific.
The word “socialism” is never uttered in the two films, but a corporation-controlling and anti-business U.S. government has emerged and is hitting hard the likes of businesswoman Dagny Taggart. In fact, it is a putatively humanitarian government which desperately tries to cure the country’s economic distress, but is no damn good at it.
The director this time is John Putch, whose sense of composition is finer than that of the first movie’s director. There is effective editing by John Gilbert, even if the lighting by cinematographer Ross Berryman sometimes mars the picture. The cast is new too, with a lovely Samantha Mathis, convincing as a CEO, now enacting Dagny. Jason Beghe has a coarse voice but is commandingly solid as Henry Reardon, the defiant owner of a steel business.
Atlas is an oddity: With its train travel and the fact that no one wears hip clothes, etc., it has one foot in the 1950s, when Ayn Rand’s novel was published, and one foot in the 21st century. Consider the fossil fuel-replacing motor! For all this, the filmmakers manage to maintain more political understanding and honesty than film critics who spurned Part 2 will ever know.