Director Brad Anderson, who co-wrote the film with Will Conroy, reveals all of the Hitchcock cards in his hand from the start — especially as he sets the unbelievably tense character-driven mystery in a film that demands they share such close proximity aboard a train. Yet I defy anyone to guess where the ultimate journey will lead them both figuratively and literally. While one can no doubt accuse me of being awfully vague, you’ll definitely thank me after viewing the film as the less one knows about its plot, the better.
Transsiberian arrives on time at your local DVD and Blu-ray retailer on November 4 from First Look Studios. While the only complaint would be that in the Russian dialogue-based scenes, the yellow subtitles are far too small, otherwise the stellar picture quality and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound was top-notch on the DVD. Featuring previews but zero extra features save for Spanish subtitles and English ones for the deaf or hearing-impaired, the film itself is the main draw.
While mood-wise it's a far cry from my favorite Anderson film—the underrated critically lauded science fiction tinged romantic comedy Happy Accidents starring Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio—Transsiberian is much more accessible than his unflinchingly dark Christian Bale vehicle The Machinist. And moreover, Transsiberian is Anderson's best crafted work so far and one that no doubt you’ll find yourself wanting to watch more than once, if only to try and discover what clue you missed the first time around.
Definitely a train worth catching and one that—similar to Roy and Jessie—you’ll want to stay pretty much in the dark until after you take it in but it’s one of 2008’s biggest sleepers and one you’ll instantly want to recommend to others. However, it may be best if you avoid approaching strangers in the process, especially ones with way too many stamps in their passport and strange advice on not standing out in customs.
Luckily, Anderson failed to listen to his own advice—making a film that intellectually stands out head and shoulders above a large percentage of Hollywood factory-made thrillers by serving up a work so deliciously gripping and sinister that even Hitchcock would probably muster up the faintest trace of that subtle smile in appreciation.