Americans abroad. Roy and Jessie finished a volunteer stint in China. He loves trains, so they go home via the Trans-Siberia Express. There are strains in the relationship, including her past. They meet Carlos, a Spaniard, traveling with Abby, a young American. Carlos keeps close to Jessie, and when Roy is left behind and waits a day for the next train so he can catch up, Jessie and Carlos take a trip into the dead of winter to photograph a ruined church. Carlos may be running drugs, so, later, when Roy catches up and introduces Jessie to his new pal, an English speaking Russian narcotics detective, he's the last person Jessie wants to see. Will the Siberian desolation be their undoing?Written by
If you believe Americans deserve a happy ending because even if they're stupid, they're true believers, and they're on the right side of moral values-- then you can stomach the twists and turns of the plot. After all, it started off with potential. It's got honest-to-goodness Russian scenery on a real Russian train. Yes, there probably is international narcobusiness on the Transsiberian, corrupt police, rude conductors. But it's all a bit over the top.
There are very good actors. Ben Kingsley is above reproach. Woody Harrelson is right on target as an oafish Iowan abroad. But why would his wife spill out her story to a stranger on a train if it were not that the screenplay needed enough back-story for an implausible relationship? And isn't it suspicious that the Spanish hunk is the evil tempter, ergo the only character responsible for his misdeeds? And violent torture is the specialty of the Russian mob, so even when they realize they're dealing with mere dupes, they must literally extract their pound of flesh?
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