For a professedly Hitchcockian thriller, Brad Anderson's follow-up to The Machinist is a little obvious. Some nice Christian women have checkered pasts? No shit. Ben Kingsley looks awesome in a furry Russian hat? So true. But if you concentrate very hard and don't let the blaring danger cues spoil the fun, Transsiberian is an entertaining film. Just don't expect finesse—and suffer the xenophobia in silence.

Jessie (Emily Mortimer) and her husband, Roy (Woody Harrelson), are total squares. After wrapping up a vacation-length mission in China with their American church, they hop aboard the Trans-Siberian Express en route from Beijing to Moscow. Roy is obsessed with rail gauge differentials across national borders (nerd!), but he loosens up with some hard-drinking Russian types in the dining car as the abstemious Jessie looks on. Soon, however, their exotic adventure is thrown off kilter by the arrival of two cabinmates, sexy Spaniard Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and withdrawn Seattleite Abby (Kate Mara), who show off their libidos and suspicious luggage with equal abandon. When Roy fails to reboard the train in Irkutsk, the film's tone changes abruptly. Russian train attendants give Westerners the evil eye, the liquored-up dining car starts to look menacing, and the music gets overbearing.

I could've used a little more subtlety around the set piece at the end of the film (abandoned gulag, really?), but the acting and the basic mechanics of the plot—characters morphing from good to bad and back again—are fine. It's also interesting to see Russians as villains in the movies again. Unfortunately, filmmakers so far are falling back on KGB stereotypes instead of trying to figure out what makes the new Russia so illegible to Western observers.