Director Bong Joon-ho’s science fiction epic is a maddening and often demented commentary on society and class structure. It brilliantly devises its premise to reflect the rise to a power that may or may not be necessary to the survival of society. Is it worth living like an upper class yuppie if it means maintaining a stratum that can keep others alive for one more day? Even if it’s in the trenches with the lower class and degenerates? Does every part of life serve a purpose right down to the wealthy elite?
Seventeen years in to the future the world is now dead, and all species extinct from a horrible ice age that was accidentally unleashed. Society devised a new weapon to balance out the temperatures from global warming, and went a step too far, dropping the temperatures in to uninhabitable conditions. Now the remaining survivors of the human race live in a humongous and massive train that doesn’t just stop running the tracks, but houses its very own class structure. In the back of the train are the ghetto dwellers, and a young man named Curtis is anxious to claim the mythical engine from the conductor Wilford. Despite his trepidation, Curtis is tasked with leading the revolution across the train and travailing many of the ark’s odd and amazing sights. Chris Evans gives an excellent performance as the flawed anti-hero Curtis, whose role as leader and revolutionary is thrust upon him, when he decides to claim the train once and for all.
Director Bong Joon-ho doesn’t fail to deliver with an awe inspiring journey through the long metallic tube, transforming the train in to a viable landscape of menace and dread that make the journey to the front cart a deadly and blood covered expedition. Director Joon-ho’s fills the screen with a slew of wonderful supporting performers, all of whom serve their purpose in helping to emphasize the shocking infrastructure of the train, and its almost Willy Wonka-esque mechanics that make Curtis’s journey harrowing, but utterly riveting. From the battles, right down to the inevitable confrontation with the almost benevolent Wilford, “Snowpiercer” sucked me in with its diverse cast of complex characters, all of whom have something to gain and something to lose in their battle for control of the carts in the magnificent metal beast. Jamie Bell and Octavia Spencer are especially memorable.
Bong Joon-ho stages amazing action sequences that don’t just keep the pacing of the narrative brisk, but serve as insight in to the characters and their motivations in the battle. It’s a war that escalates in to a massive body count, all with Bong Joon-ho’s dazzling direction that kept his monster masterpiece “Gwoemul” also consistently compelling. Evans is tasked with carrying the film, and keeps his considerable good looks and charisma hidden beneath dirt, a beard, and a skull cap, which inevitably become the symbol for freedom among his cohorts. “Snowpiercer” isn’t just a science fiction fantasy, but one of substance that has actual ideas about social structure, class warfare, and the sometimes necessary evils that come with running a society. It’s a thought provoking science fiction masterpiece, and one I intend to re-visit very soon.