"Know your place. Accept your place. Be a shoe."
It takes someone like Tilda Swinton to say this line and not have you rolling with laughter in the aisles. It also takes an amazing film crew and actors to sell the premise of the film Snowpiercer.
Based on the graphic novels of the same name, Snowpiercer (or originally Le Transperceneige) must have been a tough film to sell. Here's the press description of the film from the website.
It's been 18 years since we froze the earth. The few remaining humans live on the Snowpiercer, a train on an infinite loop around the globe. For those at the front, it's a lavish paradise of drugs and sushi in the lap of luxury; for those trapped in the tail section, life is short and cruel.
But change is in the air. Curtis (Chris Evans), desperate to escape the tail of the train, plans an uprising, aided by his mentor Gilliam (John Hurt). What begins as an isolated riot explodes into a mass revolution, an all-or-nothing push to the front of the train, and a war for humanity's future. Who will live and who will die? How far can they go? Is there hope beyond the frozen wastes?
So... it's Under Siege 2 meets The Raid meets The Hunger Games?
Well, actually... yeah. But somehow, it's brilliant. Snowpiercer has all the usual tropes: the reluctant hero, the sidekick, the boss at the game. They manage to pull it all together - mainly by just continously moving. When the riot/revolution begins the tail passenger have no choice but to move forward to the eventual end goal of the front car - the engine. This engine itself is never really explained - it's magical in their world, a perpetual motion machine, and it's magical to the viewers. Another film would get lost in the science, trying to explain away how this exists but Snowpiercer cuts the need to know info to the bone.
Very little is explained about how this train came to be, or even how the people got on the train - having not read the source material I don't know if this is something that the original author chose to keep from us or just the filmmakers did.
But on a train and film that's hurtling down a one way track the details of all these things don't matter.
This is the sort of film that Chris Evans should be making. Evans is an actor that I've been a fan of for a while now - ever since woefully underseen (at least in my opinion) The Losers. Earlier this year he famously claimed that he was done with acting, something that he's since backtracked on but I'm hoping that the critical success of Snowpiercer (currently 93% at Rotten Tomatoes) will solidify this decision. This is really a ensemble cast - while Evans is securely the lead Snowpiercer couldn't be pulled off without the rest of the performers.
Ah-sung Ko and Kang-ho Song (who you might recognize from The Host) give excellent performances and add a slightly different dimension to the train passengers that are rising up. I won't go into that any further as it enters the realm of spoilers.
John Hurt...well, he's John Hurt. That man could read a telephone book and deserve an award. It's Tilda Swinton that really gives the surreal nature of this story a whole new level. Playing Mason, the Minister of the Train she wears a false set of teeth an odd hairdo and medals, from what we don't know. It's a role that only Swinton could pull off (even if she looks pretty much like Frances McDormand in Almost Famous).
Snowpiercer is a film that genuinely is a theatrical experience while I'll have this on pre-order on Amazon the moment that the Blu-ray is listed I can't recommend enough that you find a theater that's playing it and grab a bunch of your friends to join you. You'll want someone to share the experience and talk about it afterwards.