By:Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Whether we like it or not, there is a class system in place found around the world. Those who are more wealthy tend to be able to experience a little more of the world and have more comfortable lifestyles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, those with little-to-no money find themselves struggling through life. They are forced to take what they can find and just try to make it through to the next day with, often times, little hope of moving up significantly within this system. But what if the world had seemingly come to an end and, for those survivors, this system was still in place? How would that pan out? Such is the premise of the latest film from director Joon-ho Bong, Snowpiercer.

In an attempt to make the world better through science, the world was ultimately destroyed. It has become a frozen wasteland, where being out in the cold will kill a person within a minute or so. But a train that encircles the globe was built prior to the catastrophe. The people that survived the man-made apocalypse are all on the train and spend their lives there. But not much has changed. The wealthy reside at the front of the train, living more exquisite lives, while the poor live in the back of the train, receiving meals in a bar shape that has the essential ingredients needed for survival. Those in the rear tried to revolt before, only to be put down. But now Curtis (Chris Evans), his second-in-command Edgar (Jamie Bell), and wise elder Gilliam (John Hurt) have located Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho) on the train, who is the drug-addicted security expert that designed the doors on the train. With his help, they can finally make it to the front and topple the class system. But will they have what it takes to overcome those in the cars ahead and make a better life for themselves in a world that only promises death?
For a story confined to such a small space, the action and plot advancement are large in nature and continuous. From almost the first frame, the plan is in action to take over the lead car and change the way things have been for those in the back. But like with any film where a group must fight their way to the ultimate destination, there are continuous obstacles around every corner. With wealth comes power, and the wealthy on the train have access to not only better health, but also weapons and their own security forces. And while some of the people in the back of the train have some experience with military or law enforcement, they are heavily outmatched. But it’s that drive by an underdog, one who continues to keep fighting for what they believe even with the odds greatly stacked against them, that keeps us rooting them on. And placing the location on a train not only gives us a confined environment, making for unique and intense action sequences, but also makes for creativity on the side of the characters as to how they will accomplish their goals.

When it comes to the performances, it may not necessarily be what one would expect. For one, Chris Evans, who we all know as Captain America, is definitely NOT Captain America. He is the anti-Captain America, doing whatever is necessary to overthrow the elite on the train and make his way to the front to challenge the train’s creator face to face. It is a different character for Evans and one that he firmly grasps and makes his own. Tilda Swinton comes off as a graphic novel-type character (as she should since the story based on a graphic novel) while portraying Minister Monroe, one of the higher-ups in the upper elite on the train. She is one not to refrain from using whatever force is necessary to obtain her objectives. John Hurt brings a fully fleshed-out wise mentor role to the film and Jamie Bell is equally believable as the second-in-command, following Curtis’ orders with full belief in his commander. Good performances by this solid cast help bring reality and tension to this rebellion aboard a train.
One of the great things about Snowpiercer is the time taken to really develop the characters, providing backstories that fit within the context of what is going on. In many films, this can slow down the pacing, but it is done just right here. The film also really brings to the forefront the inhumanity that can be demonstrated by mankind (much like was seen in 12 Years a Slave) and the question as to whether mankind is actually worth trying to save. Bong presents questions throughout the course of the narrative, leaving the answers up to the audience to decide as the passengers war with each other in an attempt to bring about equality for all.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    One Comment

  1. AdamJune 27th, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I really thought this movie was well put together as well! The ending was also perfect 😉

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