A Lifetime Channel "woman in peril" movie with a bigger budget, Transsiberian's moral, I guess, is that it's a horrible idea for Americans to ever, ever leave America.
Take Roy and Jessie, for example: Roy (Woody Harrelson) is a dorky American tourist, and he's dragged along his wife, Jessie (Emily Mortimer), to China on a church-sponsored charity trip. Though Jessie, with her hint of a sordid past, is more interesting than Roy, both are still way too bland to be in a film like this without something terrible happening. Cue Carlos and Abby (Eduardo Noriega and Kate Mara), who join Roy and Jessie on a train trip from Beijing to Moscow. Carlos is sinister and flirty, and Roy disappears, and shit hits the fan: Soon enough, there's murder and drug smuggling and a snoopy Russian cop (Ben Kingsley), and all of Transsiberian's characters start behaving in ways that only people in sub-par thrillers behave (e.g., like total dumbasses). After a few plot twists, Jessie's clearly wishing Roy had chosen to be all charitable in India—then, at least, they could be on a whimsical journey of self-discovery aboard the Darjeeling Limited, not trapped with eeeevil foreigners in a brutal, frozen country full of glaring peasants.
Transsiberian has some impressive people behind it: Director Brad Anderson helmed 2004's The Machinist (not to mention some episodes of everyone's favorite TV show, The Wire); Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl, Match Point) is usually fantastic; and I'll be damned if I can't stop giving the once-great Ben Kingsley the benefit of the doubt, no matter how shamelessly he slums around in shit like BloodRayne and The Love Guru.
But even with those three—and good ol' Woody!—Transsiberian is boring and hokey. Mortimer spends the whole time looking fraught while Anderson clumsily attempts to ratchet up the tension. It's weirdly impressive, actually: Transsiberian runs just under two hours, yet it somehow crams in enough portentous glances, panicked breathing, ridiculous twists to fill a dozen crappy flicks by a dozen wannabe Hitchcocks.