Snowpiercer, the first English language film from renowned South Korean director Joon-ho Bong (The Host), is set in a not too distant future where global temperatures are skyrocketing as a result of global warming. To turn the tide a chorus of countries around the globe fire a compound called ‘CX7’ into the atmosphere. Instead of hitting the reset on Earth’s simmering, the entire globe is snap frozen, extinguishing life on earth. Thanks to an eccentric billionaire, Wilford (Ed Harris) that built a self-sustaining locomotive that perennially circumnavigates the globe; there’s a minuscule population of humanity surviving aboard. 17 years after the world has frozen over we are introduced to Curtis (Chris Evans), Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Gilliam (John Hurt) and their resistance conspiring to overthrow the Wilford’s reign at the front of the train.
Snowpiercer conversely was tonally undermined by Bong and Masterson’s scripting and Bong’s performance direction in the most serious moments that you couldn’t help but laugh out loud when it was attempting to move you. Evans is stoic and fierce in the action but he’s the primary victim to having to deliver dialogue that’s unforgettably cringe-worthy.Octavia Spencer’s Tanya sheds any memory of an Oscar winning performance as she’s reduced to something akin to a Saturday Night Live sketch. The two performance standouts are definitely Kang-ho Song’s Namgoong Minsu, a kind of bad-ass genius, released from imprisonment by the rebellion to assist with getting through the train that is living out a separate film from the one we’re watching. He’s just the right kind of understated crazy and smart to keep you unsure of his lucidity. And of course Tilda Swinton’s Mason is divine. Swinton is at her larger than life, scenery chewing best barking orders, demanding a swift and bloody end to the carnage and as a raving fan of all things Wilford. Despite the baffling weirdness popping up throughout, it seemed to actually make the overall picture more enjoyable.
Snowpiercer is strange, leaning toward strange good.
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Written by: Joon-ho Bong and Kelly Masterson (based on Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and
Starring: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Alison Pill, Ed Harris,Luke Pasqualino, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Kang-ho Song, Tómas Lemarquis, Ah-sung Ko