No matter what people on the internet will try to have you to believe, it really is impossible to approach things we call art in any sort of objective way. Sure, there are some standards that a lot of us like to go towards when “evaluating” a certain movie, but no matter how hard you try, you’re going to be bringing your own agenda into the movie, even if its just what you think a good movie should be like. Which is fine, because movies usually bring in their own agenda as well. Even if the creators weren't trying to get political or try to say anything meaningful, a lot of work gets put into why certain stories are told in a certain particular way.
The reason I’m talking about these things is because it really is impossible to talk about Snowpiercer without talking about the hard biting politics behind this movie. Most movies usually use issues like class disparity or other political issues as the sort of setup and background for the rest of their story, but, with Snowpiercer, the whole political issue is what the movie is about. The movie puts all of its issues and politics right into the foreground and it never lets up throughout the entire run time.
The story takes place in the future where an experiment to combat against global warming goes disastrously wrong leaving the Earth to go cold and wiping out nearly all of Humanity. The little bit that is left are stuck on a train to be able to live safely on. The train has been in a continuous loop for years with all of the poor people in the rear of the train and all of the rich and wealthy people nearer to the front. Of course, the poor people are fed up with the miserable life they have had to endure and it’s about time for them to fight back. Curtis, played by Captain America, is the one who instigates this revolution and through a series some great action set pieces, they get closer towards the front of the train to see just how well the rich really have it.
Subtlety, this movie has none!
Snowpiercer goes even further by explaining how the train is running and how people are able to live on it. Through “balance,” everything runs on this train due to repeating cycles and hope that nobody dares to break said cycle. It’s up to the poor people to continually do all of the hard work so the rich people can continue having their fun. And, no, it doesn't stop there. One of the cabins they find themselves in is a classroom setting where they find all of the more well off kids getting indoctrinated into justifying living this kind of lifestyle. They are trained to hate the poor and to view them as nothing more than dirt.
Like I said, the movie has no problem being explicit in what it’s trying to say.
What’s offset by a lot of the political melodrama are some pretty stellar action scenes. It really is surprising how much of a dynamic experience they can get from a whole train setting but it all makes sense in the long run. It goes into the sort of action movie territory that I like where everything is contained to one setting which makes all of the action scenes a lot more personal. There isn't some sort of end of the world macguffin where everything is at stake. The movie is entirely grounded in its characters and all of the stakes come from there. Have all of this wrapped around some excellently directed action scenes and you really do have yourself a great action movie.
What’s really great about this movie is the high caliber cast it has as well. I've already mentioned Chris Evans, but it also has Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, and Allison Pill. But, this all comes down to Chris Evans and I think it’s about time we declare him a great actor by now. There’s a reason why he’s been nailing the character of Captain America down so well and in this movie we get to see why. The big thing throughout this movie is that he feels the whole revolution needs a proper leader and he keeps being told that he’s the one that needs to be up to the task even though he’s not willing to do it. We learn more about his character as the story goes on and he never misses a beat on the way there.
Snowpiercer is one of those movies that some might find preachy and pretentious and overly broad in its political views but the style and effort that goes into this movie is what makes it all the more unique. It delivers all it can when it comes to being a hard action movie, but the political overtones spread throughout everything is what’s been having me think about this movie days after I've seen it. It’s one of the best movies of the year and a godsend to what has been a pretty mediocre summer so far. It’s not playing in very many theaters, but if it’s playing anywhere near you I’d definitely recommend checking it out even if you might disagree with what the movie is trying to say.