Snowpiercer is the latest effort by Korean director Joon-ho Bong and it feels worlds apart from his previous films. Following an apocalypse at the hands of a global warming countermeasure gone wrong, the film sees the remnants of humanity living aboard the Noah’s Ark-inspired train from which the movie takes its title.
Those born towards the back of the train live on scraps whilst those in first class live in luxury and it isn’t long before things go from allegory for global inequality to a literal revolution at the hands of the oppressed.
Heading the revolt is Curtis (Chris Evans), the film’s reluctant hero, backed up by right-hand man Edgar (Jamie Bell) and wizened mentor Gilliam (John Hurt). On the other side of things stands the flamboyant Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton) and Wilford (Ed Harris), the enigmatic inventor of the train. The film’s cast is nicely rounded off by Korean pair Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko who make a strong double act as a drug-addicted father and his junkie daughter.
Regrettably, the opening act of Snowpiercer doesn’t really do all that much with the film’s unique premise. Between its grimy colour scheme and surface-level examination of class struggle, there isn’t a lot in this part of the film separating it from the many other science fiction action thrillers out there.
As big as the train is said to be, it never really feels like the kind of place where long-term habitation is logistically possible, and the more zany carriages shown in the later parts of the film don’t help with this.
With the exception of a particularly impressive fight sequence involving an axe, a fish and some nifty night vision goggles, Snowpiercer isn’t really anything you haven’t seen before. It falls short of the sum of its parts – that said, sci-fi junkies will still find it a reasonable watch.
Snowpierceropens in cinemas Thursday July 24.