This is the epitome of what not only a great summer movie can be, but what any movie should strive for. With Snowpiercer, director Bong-joon ho makes one of the most entertaining, inventive and thought provoking film experiences I’ve had in the past few years. Filled from beginning to end with great characters, amazing action scenes, and an inspired plot, it’s pure escapism the entire time. Snowpiercer doesn’t give a damn about the logistics of every little thing that comes with it’s very specific set-up, but I think it’s a better movie for it. This is the best movie I’ve seen this year, and it’s probably going to go down as one of my favorites I’ve ever seen.
The movie begins by explaining that humanity has created what we believe to be a ‘cure’ of sorts for ending global warming. Except that like all movies cures, this one ruins everything. It instead essentially freezes over the entire planet, and kills everybody, except for the lucky thousand or so that get on a state-of-the-art luxury train designed by the enigmatic ‘Wilford’. On this train lives the remainder of humanity, which now exists in a caste system organized by the trains cars. The film follows a select few of the ‘tail-enders’ as they’re called: Curtis (Chris Evans), Edgar (Jamie Bell) and more, as they attempt to stage a revolution of sorts to fight for their equality. The tail-enders live in tight quarters with each other, in destitute conditions, living off of protein bars sent from the front of the train. As they fight their way toward the front (and Wilford’s engine room), they journey through the new hierarchy of humanity. Without spoiling anything, there are so many damn twists and turns near the end, I was getting narrative whiplash. Now that I’ve processed everything however, I think Snowpiercer wraps everything up beautifully.
I don’t even know where to begin in talking about the best parts of Snowpiercer. I suppose the production and set design. The detail that they put into all of the trains compartments is astonishing, and even just the tail-end of the train (in all it’s third-world glory) is breathtaking. This movie doesn’t take the easy way out in any way, and after watching Joon-ho’s ‘The Host’, I expected nothing less. The guy has a Kubrickian eye for detail, and it’s on full display in Snowpiercer. The action set pieces are just as good, and there’s a couple scenes in particular (you’ll know when you see them) that are the best of anything this year, hands down.
All of the performances are top-notch as well. Chris Evans kills it as Curtis, the protagonist and leader of the tail-enders. All of the supporting cast is great as well, with a special place for Tilda Swinton. She’s been wonderful in everything I’ve seen her in, but in Snowpiercer, she really transformed into the evil and pathetic Mason; the emissary of sorts for the front of the train to the back. If she doesn’t get an Oscar nomination at least, I’ll be pretty disappointed.
So to wrap this up, Snowpiercer is the perfect example of what a great movie can be. Not even just an action movie, which this one definitely is, but of any form of entertainment. The amount of vision behind it’s execution are singular and inspired, and in turn rubbed off on me having seen it. You can tell that everyone involved truly believed in what it could be; that it was something new and different that would stand out in a summer crowded with unoriginal rehashes. If you have to see only one movie for the rest of the summer, my recommendation is to make that movie Snowpiercer, and climb aboard for a wild ride; you won’t regret it.