July 10, 2014


A terrific dystopian class warfare action movie. If Terry Gilliam had directed Total Recall, it might have looked something like this. Or, take Gilliam's Brazil, remove most of the black comedy, and replace it with grim cruelty and hatchet fights, and you're close. Chris Evans is good, and Tilda Swinton, again, is hilarious. Jamie Bell adds some lightness. Civilization has been condensed down to a few hundred souls, stratified into two classes and packed into a train. The 99% are unwashed and subsisting in the tail section, while the one percenters enjoy a life of decadence at their expense. Curtis (Chris Evans, bearded) is the reluctant working-class hero who leads the revolt, advancing forward, literally and figuratively, towards the engine where the unseen dictator rules.
The metaphor is a little too on-the-nose, and Snowpiercer is a little too brutal for my taste, but it was still a exciting, inventive, and thought-provoking ride. The ending is a little thematically sloppy. Reminiscent of Total Recall's ending, and Neo's scenes with The Architect in The Matrix, the ending raises as many questions as it answers, and leaves us with plenty to think about. Maybe I'm thinking too "American" when I want Curtis to deliver a snappy one-liner and vanquish his enemy at the end, but this movie is too enigmatic for that. The whole film has a "world cinema" flair to it, another great movie with an international cast, not set in America: the past few years I've enjoyed Pacific Rim, Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Wolverine too, with barely one foot in the U. S. of A.
I can see why Harvey Weinstein didn't want to spend millions to promote this movie- sure it stars Captain America, but the movie does not spare the brutality, and it's not exactly fun, but it's leagues better than the latest Transformers movie.
Stub Hubby Grade: A-minus (for excessive hatchet brutality and children in peril)
Sold-out show at the Brattle Theater, with Adam