Director Joon-ho Bong unleashed his epic monster film The Host on US audiences making him an instant name here in the states. Now he is taking on his first English language film with the post-apocalyptic film Snowpiercer and is bringing along an impressive cast including Chris Evans, Ed Harris, Kang-ho Song, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, and Ewen Bremner but does it have the punch that the trailer promises?
Shadowpiercer follows a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges. With these kinds of movies you have to set up an interesting and believable world for it to work and here they have not only doen that, but managed to make it extremely detailed while simplistic all at once. You are given the reasons and how they got to the train, but they don’t spend a long wasting time with all this, but instead get to the meat of the story pretty quickly. We all know Evans can bring the action, but here he is toned down a bit and worked into an ensemble cast but still leading the charge and does an excellent job. The rest of the cast do a great job with their respected parts helping to bring this dire future to life, but it’s the subtle performance from the always great Kang-ho Song that really stands out. He brings little dialogue, but a tone of emotion and importance to the film needed to really pull it together. Tilda Swinton is almost unrecognizable giving a somewhat silly over the top performance that meshed well bringing some light to the darkness of the film while still managing to inject a harsh cruelty to it all.
It’s always hard when given minimal space to make a film work and with this one taking place on a train throughout you would think it would lose the creativity to keep you involved, but instead it keeps bringing more surprises. They have used their fight to get to the front of the train to not only unleash some brutal action sequences, but also allows each car to bring more light to the bigger picture of the story. The action is intense and well-handled making it look like actual people fighting instead of the usual Hollywood choice of having everyone suddenly fighting masters. It is brutal and graphic at times but in a way necessary for the story and comes across as people fighting for their lives just like it is meant too. There is a great gun fight sequence that starts out in a strange school sequence that takes you out of the previous part of the film and into a colorful new world that is perfection. The uses of bringing the green house and aquarium car helped you buy into this new world these people live in while delivering a bit of awe to it all.
This is one of those rare movies that hasn’t gotten the publicity it deserves but is one that people should support and check out. It is something different and works on every level whether it should or not. People keep complaining about not getting anything original out there yet when something like this comes along people don’t give it the support it deserves. This film has spread out to more theaters so get out there and check out this awesome film and show Hollywood we like when they take a chance and then maybe more inventive original ideas will start taking over the big screen again.