What could have been a very heavy handed allegory for the class system in society becomes one of the best action/sci-fi films of 2013 in SNOWPIERCER.
After a failed attempt to fix global warming results in the planet's ecosystem becoming uninhabitable, the last remnants of humanity board a nuclear driven train that endlessly circles the globe.
As the years pass, a class system begins to emerge on the train, with the lowest rings of servitude and society at the back of the train, progressive benefits as you move forward and a life of endless luxury in the front cars.
We join the story in 2037, seventeen years after the Earth has frozen and the train began its voyage.
Chris Evans (Captain America) stars as Curtis, an everyman than begins to emerge as a leader among the people.
Curtis surrounds himself with an eclectic group and they begin pushing their way to the front of the train with the single minded goal of spreading the wealth to the back of the train when they get there.
I know. It sounds hopelessly black & white, too simple, too heavy handed, but Writer/Director Joon-ho Bong (The Host) wraps the basic premise in so much action, style and momentum that the story barrels forward like our train, carrying you forward with our band of rebels.
Each car of the train brings discovery, including Tilda Swinton as the loyal spokesperson for the unseen human leader. Tilda is perfectly unrecognizable, funny and fierce in a role you would never dream of casting her in. Ed Harris is terrific as Wilford and Evans carries plenty of Captain America bravado to a very different kind of hero.
The film is visually exciting with great production design and effects. The scene where one of the major battles aboard the train is halted so that the warring factions can both catch a rare glimpse of the outside world and celebrate the New Year is strange and hypnotic.
My only complaint would be the final 20 minutes, which for me, failed to live up to the promise of the rest of the film, but Snowpiercer is still a very good movie with enough story, vision and visuals for several films.
I'm anxious to see what Joon-ho Bong does next.
Snowpiercer gets a B.