Plot – In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges.
Director – Bong Joon Ho
Released – 2013
Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is a cold film for a couple of reasons, not only because it takes place frozen post-apocalyptic setting caused by an experiment to combat global warming going wrong, but also because of the level of cynicism and disregard for others shown on screen by pretty much every character.
The starts off with a brutal streak and only gets worse as the story progresses and although it can be nice to see a film, that’s that is not afraid of being sardonic compared to most other sci-fi blockbusters, the films bitterness when looking at humanity can start to feel tiresome by the end.
As anyone who has seen his other work, including Academy Award-winning Parasite, Joon-ho has developed quite a distinct style from his time in Korean cinema, one that I find makes the action feel more intense and personal, while the cinematography employed further emphasises not only how cold as the frozen tundra outside of the train is, but also just how cold the hearts of everyone on-board has become.
Recently when writing about Stoker, I mentioned how difficult it can be for directors making their first English language film when transitioning from a system outside of Hollywood, sometimes the nuances they bring from their native industries can enhance a picture, however, sometimes these can be lost in translation or result in one-dimensional characters. Snowpiercer definitely belongs in the latter.
Of all the characters, the only one that gets any real development is Curtis (Evans) and even then we have to wait till the final 10 minutes to learn more about him than he’s only reluctantly leading the uprising. This isn’t Evans’s fault as he’s effective with what he is given, the fault is more with the writing. I can say the same for Swinton, who can be seen having fun as a middle manager on a power trip, while Hurt and Harris give solid performances at the start and finale. Other than those four, we don’t so much get characters, but rather expendable companions for Curtis while he makes his way forward. Most of whom you don’t care enough about once they’re killed, but it’s okay because the other characters don’t seem to care much either.
Snowpiercer has all the makings of a solid action film, a strong cast, a talented director and a couple of twists thrown in along the way, however, once you start to think about it, the number of plot holes means the film doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. I am however looking forward to the TV show adaptation as I expect this will provide more time to rectify these issues.