Atlas Shrugged Part III Blu-ray Review: Fool's Gold

Producer John Aglialoro completes his quixotic quest to adapt Ayn Rand's epic novel to the screen.
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The final act of this unlikely trilogy spotlights a strong-willed individual who ignores public opinion and forges ahead with his own vision. That’s John Galt, the messianic character of the work, but also John Aglialoro, the financier behind the entire endeavor. Operating far outside of the studio system and critical approval, Aglialoro here completes the daunting task of bringing author Ayn Rand’s magnum opus to the screen. That in itself is a measure of success, albeit the only success the film is likely to experience.

If you’ve been following along with the prior installments (Part I and Part II), it should come as no surprise that Aglialoro has completely recast the stars and director again. None of them are big enough names to garner attention, with familiarity more along the lines of “isn’t that the guy from Ally McBeal? Oh, and didn’t that other guy have a role in Mad Men?” Lead actress Laura Regan is so far off the radar that her credits are largely just a crazy quilt of TV guest-star gigs.

And then there’s our John Galt, here a laid-back zen dude played by Kristoffer Polaha (Backstrom). He’s not at all how I pictured the character, and yet he works fairly well in the grand scheme of this unorthodox project. Polaha briefly nails the magnetism of the character in a lengthy speech made over pirated tv airwaves, making a convincing case for the huddled masses in the film to rise up against their buffoonish political and corporate overlords. Aside from that bright spot, he’s otherwise relegated to spouting idealistic platitudes to his cohorts and providing eye candy for our leading lady.

Picking up immediately after the events of the second film, the story opens with Dagny Taggart (Regan) recuperating from injuries sustained while crashing her plane into Galt’s secret utopia buried deep in the Colorado Rockies. She’s an interloper in a land populated by Galt’s hand-picked acolytes, the best and brightest of the world’s industrialists, and yet she also has an open invitation to join them thanks to her position as head of the country’s strongest railroad company. These iconoclastic free thinkers have opted to remove themselves and their companies from the world stage, resulting in chaos for the remaining commoners and a feeding frenzy for the politicians seeking to control them.

Rand’s philosophy of objectivism is delivered with a heavy hand, woven into the plot in such a preachy manner that the film quickly devolves into something akin to a religious recruitment reel rather than meaningful entertainment. The entire production feels like an amateur TV-movie rather than a feature film, with subpar cinematography, phoned-in performances and direction, and silly editing choices such as frequently freezing the action to slowly type unimportant character names on the screen. In short, there’s little to recommend for any but the most devoted of Rand disciples. Aglialoro is simply preaching to the choir here, but never makes a viable case for new recruits to join the cause.

The Blu-ray format does the best it can with the source material, providing a crisp image with no discernible artifacting and a DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack, although the audio isn’t particularly immersive due to its largely conversational nature. Bonus features include brief and uninspired on-set interviews with three of the cast members, as well as a producer and a special effects coordinator.

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