Bullet Points: Snowpiercer
This is one of those movies that the more you think about it, the more you will like it. Check out how grim that poster is; prepare yourself for a movie experience.
The Gist: The remaining members of the human race are all gathered on a constantly moving train which makes one revolution around the world each year. The occupants of this train are divided amongst the cars by social order; the rich ride comfortably in the front, enjoying all of the amenities offered to them by their status. The middle cars are populated by the middle class. They go about their days working, living, loving; sending their children to schools and singing the praises of the almighty life-giving nature of the Engine and its creator Wilford. The tail of the train is filled with the poor and down trodden; surviving on gelatin protein bars distributed to them daily at gunpoint. The time has come for the members of the tail to improve their situation and for once, step foot into the front of the train. If they control the engine, they control the train.
The Cast: I thought the cast did an excellent job. Chris Evans, John Hurt, and Jaime Bell are the tail passengers we spend the most time with. Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko play a father/daughter duo from the middle-class…er, middle cars who add to the story in ways that no other character did; they simply wanted off of the train. Tilda Swinton gets most of the praise in her turn as Minister Mason and film critics are falling all over themselves to kiss her skinny pale ass. I thought she did an exceptional job but no better than Captain America or any of the other leads. Throughout the entire movie it is Evans who carries most of the emotional weight and he does so by always pushing forward. Many times he does so literally but saying “we go forward”, but other times it’s much more subtle and his performance truly gives the viewer an idea how this linear story stays in motion. That was two train puns in one sentence…
The saviors of all train-kind.
The Villain: As I just said, Tilda Swinton plays the Minister who pretty much runs the day-to-day operations for the creator of the train, Wilford. Ed Harris shows up at the very end for this role and I found his portrayal of the character to be somewhat surprising. I expected for the character to be crazy from isolation and genius but he played it in a much creepier and subdued way that it gave me chills.
Tilda really does rock it in this one.
The Action: The action was seriously brutal when it went down and it really felt like the occupants were fighting for their lives. The action in the tunnel was pretty awesome and there is a real rush to the pace that the tail-enders move at…until there isn’t. There are moments where they rush from train car to train car and then they just sit down and eat sushi. It’s bizarre but it totally works. The action is so condensed sometimes that when they say “the whole wide train”, you really understand that to most of these characters, the train is their world. Nothing outside of it really matters. It would be like living on a yacht and not worrying about the deadly sharks swimming beneath of you because they can’t get inside the boat. That is why the characters of Namgoong and Yona are great because unlike all of the other characters who only think in a linear fashion (either moving forwards, or backwards), they are trying to find a way off of the train and back into the frozen world outside. Is it any wonder that there are no windows in the rear or the front of the train? The middle section is the only one where you can “see”. The rear is too dark and dingy while the people in the front are only interested in parties, drugs, and trance music. The middle is also the most dangerous…the guns in the school or the faceless men ready to attack them at a moment’s notice. There are a lot of moments in this movie that will get you thinking but there are also guys fighting with hatchets…so that’s pretty cool too.
I wonder if that’s a metaphor???
Take it Home:
- Role Reversal: The role of Minister Mason was written with John C. Reilly in mind but later changed for Tilda Swinton.
- Freeze Out: Mason plays a seriously harsh game of Freeze Out with a member of the rear car.
- Population Control: I thought that it was weird that a train carrying the last of humanity, with a limited amount of space, would have an area for prisoners. Seems like it would be easier to kill them.
- Casting: Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko played father/daughter once before, it director Joon-ho Bong’s The Host.
Post-apocalyptic Flava Flav!
Happy New Year! Let’s kill each other!