In a truth is just as strange as science fiction eerie scenario, South Korean director Joon-ho Bong (The Host) doesn’t seem to have to dig very deep into the weird ways history plays out in the present, to concoct the chaotic futuristic extremes of Snowpiercer. And with Chris Evans switching up his superhero personas in this screen adaption of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, for more of a venture into the dark side as a burdened, powerless protagonist in the supernatural scheme of things.
Evans is Curtis in Snowpiercer, a passenger among the bottom feeder disgruntled masses along for a free ride on an endless journey at the end of the world. It seems that humankind has finally succeeded in the total environmental destruction of planet earth, now just a barren frozen realm. And with this particular train, the mechanical marvel of tycoon madman and railway speed freak cynic with cash Wilford (Ed Harris), housing the last known survivors.
Snowpiercer, despite periodic heavy handed excesses in a story that on occasion derails, rises far above the typical cookie cutter blockbusters that are increasingly distinguished from one another solely by the film titles. Counting characters fraught with complexity and conflicted motivations, and inventive visuals with apocalyptic panoramas that lend a sense of present visceral dread to an imagined fantastical future.
Likewise lending a hand to the crazed proceedings are Tilda Swinton as a duplicitous dragon lady geek; John Hurt as the glum disabled caboose elder spouting possibly dubious rebel advice; Jamie Bell as Evans’ luckless lieutenant; and Octavia Spencer as a refreshing fierce fighter in the mix – an unlikely, unbuffed avenger combatant mom intent on class warfare. And facing off against strangely lookalike dead ringers for the menacing hooded neo-nazis in Kiev.
Taking charge of the proceedings in a revolutionary bid against the mayhem in motion is Evans’ dashing commuter warrior on wheels. Leading his impoverished posse – literally fed up with a repetitive menu of crushed cockroach cuisine – all the way through to the express to nowhere first class compartments and complicit beyond.
Snowpiercer may not feel exactly like rush hour in the subway among the fuming drudges, but that particular grueling experience is likely never to seem quite the same again. While ongoing political machinations in the real world intimated in this movie like mass manipulation, exploitation, upper class connivance and political false flag global conflict instigation, feel narratively all too close for comfort as well.