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A universe, a bad guy, a good guy, a cause, a mentor… You don’t need many things to make an action movie. What makes Snowpiercer a good action movie is that to all of the above are added a scenario with details, characters with studied backgrounds and a directing with rythme and intelligence.
The story can be passionating: the movie is an adaptation of a comic strip created in 1977 by Jacques Lob, french screenwriter and Alexis, author and cartoonist.
2014. In order to stop the effects of global warming, the most powerful states on earth decide to pour a chemical in the atmosphere. It is much more efficient than it was planned to be: in no time, the Earth finds itself in another galcial era. Temperature collapses, nature dies, life stops. Not all lives, luckily. Just before the lauching of rescue-the-atmosphere-mission, a visionary and probably a little insane businessman named Wilford decided to build a huge and completely self-sufficient train where a part of the humanity could gather and survive, in a continual and full-speed rotation.
That happened 17 years ago and the train is still on. A micro-society was formed inside the wagons. The drugged, indoctrinated and drunken Rich are in the front. In the rear end, the poors, the underdogs, unclean and underfed are crammed. “And so it is” repeat the officials.
Curtis does not agree. Helped by his mentor, Gilliam, and mysterious red messages, the bearded and courageous man creates a riot. His goal : go to the front of the train, kill the guards and take control of the water so that he can negociate with Wilford. With him, Edgar a young and impetuous rebel that takes him as a model, Tanya an enraged mother up to everything to have her son back and Namgoong Minsu who created the security system years ago before he became a junkie.
Chris Evans leaves behind him the smooth role of Captain America and gets into the moth-eaten clothes of Curtis. He stands as a determined hero with open wounds that constantly reminds him he’s human and limited. He is magnetic and cool-headed and has no problem to appropriate the space around him. Jamie Bell (Billy Eliott) and John Hurt glimmers, the first one with the dynamism and the innocence of the youth, the second one by the wisdom and the deepness of the age. Octavia Spencer, who got an Oscar in 2012, stands as a stubborn and strong mother. They all take part in giving credibility to Curtis and his quest without being just sidekicks. In front of them the genuinely great and mimical Tilda Swinton symbolises perfectly the established, opportunist and indoctrinated elite. The golden casting is magnified by the directing of South Korean Bong Joon-ho. His work is remarquable with movments, and lights. He does not protect the spectator, he surprises them, he saddens them and sometimes, he pinches them. Totally under his control, Snowpiercer bumps, falters but never derails.