I really wanted to like this movie. It has a top notch cast with Chris “Captain America” Evans, Tilda “Chameleon” Swinton, Octavia “Oscar” Spencer, John “Gravitas” Hurt and Ed “Reliable” Harris, and I LOVED director Bong Joon Ho’s last film, Mother. But dystopian future movies need to have an internal logic and this one just doesn’t. It is a two hour battle from one end of a train to the other without anyone I could give a damn about.
The central premise of the film is that global warming got to the point that threatened humanity, so we shot stuff into the atmosphere to cool things down (geoengineering) and it got out of control and cooled the planet too much and everyone died, except for some people who got onto a perpetual motion supertrain that evil genius Wilford designed, which travels around the world exactly once each year and has two classes of people aboard — those at the front are mean elite people who worship Wilford, and those at the rear live in squalor just because. The entire plot is hero Curtis leading a rebellion to get to the front of the train and take over the engine. As with any quest, our hero has to overcome a series of tests and make friends of people who he needs to get to his goal. In Snowpiercer he depends on the man who designed the locks that lead through the train (Korean actor Kang-ho Song), who was imprisoned along with his daughter a clairvoyant.
Yes, I get that it is allegory, and yes, the filmmaking itself is visually pretty stunning. But the script is cliché-ridden, and except for Tilda Swinton the talents of an amazing set of actors are wasted on characters without meaning. The hero had absolutely no charisma and the story left me with a lot of unanswered questions, and not the kind that come from films that bring up deep concepts. More like what was the point? I read a synopsis of the graphic novel that was the basis for the film and it made more sense and would have been a much better story. I know I am going against the critics’ consensus here, but I say skip it. There are a lot of other dystopian future flicks out there that did it much better.