Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton

Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3.5
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
June 26, 2014

I felt lip-smacking anticipation about seeing Snowpiercer, the first English–language film from South Korean menace maestro Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother). Just imagine: It's 17 years into the future. The world has frozen over, leaving almost everyone popsicles. The survivors are all living on a high-speed train – yup, the Snowpiercer – that keeps cracking through arctic blocks and zipping around the planet's periphery. Not everyone is equal. The have-nots, led by Curtis (a terrific Chris Evans taking Captain America to the dark side) and his buddy Edgar (Jamie Bell), are stuck in the caboose, forced to survive on black bars of protein glop. The privileged middle and upper classes, wrangled by Mason (a sensational, mad wicked Tilda Swinton with a killer Maggie Thatcher overbite) ride in luxury in other cars that house a schoolroom, a garden, an aquarium, a beauty salon, a sushi bar, a night club suitable for orgies and – in the head car – a slick-dick wizard named Wilford (Ed Harris). It's when the brutes in the rear start to push their way forward, egged on by Gilliam (John Hurt) – a deep bow to the dystopian depths of Terry Gilliam's 1985 Brazil – that Bong pulls out all the stops. Wilford's stormtroopers start cracking heads. And a battle royale conducted in near darkness as the train zooms through a tunnel is tremendously exciting. Ok, I'm afraid the train is a rattling microcosm of society as we know it. But you can forgive Bong a few ham-fisted lunges at profoundity given the film's sheer visionary splendor. Adapted by Bong and Kelly Masterson (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) from a 1982 French graphic novel, Snowpiercer is everything Transformers: Age of Extinction wishes it could be: a slambam sci-fi thriller with a brain, a heart and an artful sense of purpose. You're in for a wild whoosh of a ride.

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