The tinhorn film version of "Atlas Shrugged" fails to rise even to the level of "eh" suggested by Ayn Rand's title. But with so little going on in cinematic or storytelling terms, we can cut straight to the fascinating tea-stained politics of the thing.
Conceived as the first of a proposed three-part series, director Paul Johansson's movie is the work of true believers in Rand's pet theory known as Objectivism, which can be described as "Us? There is no 'us'!" In Rand's worldview, it is me-time, all the time. The capitalistic visionaries among us have been hounded and taxed and ground down so relentlessly by the federal government and other societal evils, there's nothing to do but blow the whole thing up and start anew, in a civilization run by the mysterious John Galt, who respects the rapacious dog-eat-dog nature of humankind and the sexy, life-enhancing virtues of unfettered economic competition.
Published in 1957, Rand's novel has been championed over the decades by such noteworthy governmental and media figureheads as Alan Greenspan, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and the loosely defined "tea party" millions currently exercising considerable influence in American politics will find much in Rand's story to stoke their righteous wrath. As adapted, dutifully if flatly, by screenwriters Brian Patrick O'Toole and John Aglialoro, the movie deploys Rand's code words and phrases like little bombs. Each time one of Rand's noble warriors — industrialists, inventors, plus a craven lobbyist or federal-payroll slacker for moral contrast — mutters something about "federal tax" or "public funding" or the uselessness of altruism, it's like a call to arms.