An American couple traveling on the Trans-Siberian railway crosses paths with two other passengers who may be more than they appear.
Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) are an American couple travelling from China to Moscow by way of the Trans-Siberian. They befriend another mysterious couple and are slowly drawn into a world of suspicion, intrigue, drug smuggling, betrayal and murder. With each step, they slide deeper and deeper into a dark world they never knew existed as Russian detective Grinko (Ben Kingsley) picks up their scent.
This is a film which had all the makings of a great suspense film but falls short time after time. Director Brad Anderson continues his long-standing tradition of exploring the psychological condition despite having a story that has nothing to do with that. The claustrophobic setting lends itself to it, but the characters become distractingly disjointed as he tries to make them deeper than they need to be, ironically making them all somewhat vapid and mercurial. The continued attempt to get the viewer inside the character’s minds leads to a dull first act which replaces tension with slow pacing. When things get moving, around the midway point, it’s done with a twist would could only have made sense in the writer’s mind and strains the limits of credibility. The characters’ actions similarly range from foolish to insane as Jessie turns one unfortunate encounter into a game of life and death. Each supposed twist in the story becomes less and less believable and some good story elements are wasted.
There’s an art to making a good suspense film. This is a study in what happens when you take the ingredients of such a film (setting, premise, acting) and assume that the whole is equal to its parts. Wasted efforts, wasted elements and a wasted two hours of viewing time.