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Korea, Czech Republic · 2013
Rated R · 2h 7m
Director Bong Joon-ho
Starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Ed Harris, John Hurt
Genre Action, Science Fiction, Drama

In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe carrying the world's only survivors. When cryptic messages incite the passengers to revolt, the train thrusts full-throttle towards disaster.

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What are people saying?

Billy Donoso Profile picture for Billy Donoso

I have a similar problem with 'Snowpierer' that I do with 'Okja.' I thoroughly enjoy Bong Joon-ho's technical work and really believe he puts in so much heart and soul into each of the worlds he creates, but 'Snowpiercer' is an example of going in a fundamentally wrong direction with it. Rather than present a verisimilitude of reality, this film feels like a conspiracy of the hyper-wealthy, hyper-desensitized, hyper-hedonistic denizens of the front of the train to torture the denizens of the back-of-the-train. Considering that these are the last known human beings alive on the planet, the system presented in the film seems fundamentally illogical or at least ill-presented. If they are a group of people uniformly concerned with torturing those in the back, so be it, but there is virtually no exposition for this possibility and no substantive reason for why they treat them this way other than 'rich people equal bad.' Similarly, the percentages that Tilda Swinton's and Ed Harris' characters spout are founded on mental gymnastics at best. I will say, the energy of the film is phenomenal and the visuals are a treat, but a director who chooses themes as bold as the ones that Bong Joon-ho chooses make me want more than popcorn fodder and that is all 'Snowpiercer' is to me. I would actually embrace it more if it detached itself from reality rather than hanging on by the thinnest of threads, and it seems a perfect story for more magical realism. But instead, it is obsessed with its political agenda that is impossible to believe and become invested in. The sad thing here is that I strongly desire a discussion of the politics of inequity, but it is a movie like this that is disappointing for how far removed it is from that discussion while claiming the opposite.

Eddie Godino Profile picture for Eddie Godino

The movie’s attempts to comment on the societal hierarchy can seem, at times, a bit on the nose, but the basic premise of the story is intriguing enough to get you invested, and the strong performances will carry you the rest of the way. If you're a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre in general, this is definitely worth a watch.

What are critics saying?

74 by

Snowpiercer is bold and brutal and committed, but no setting, no matter how inventive or beautiful, can compensate for storytelling that strains plausibility even as it batters your senses and sensibilities.


The Guardian by Andrew Pulver

The way the allegory works out is not exactly subtle or unexpected, but is strangely moving, despite the gruesomeness that has gone before. All in all, a treat.


Slant Magazine by Chuck Bowen

The film preaches resolutely to the choir, and cinephiles in sync with the film's politics may still blanch at how snugly their interests are courted.


Hitfix by Drew McWeeny

The action sequences in the film are spectacular, and there's one in particular that I think is an all-timer, both in the way it's imagined and in the way it's accomplished on film, but this isn't a film about empty sensation. It's a richly realized science-fiction world, and the cast is just tremendous.


IndieWire by Eric Kohn

Unapologetically long and messy, Snowpiercer offers an unhinged ride that's worth the investment for its mixture of batty personalities, consistently impressive visuals and mad swipes at heavy symbolism jam-packed together.


The Dissolve by Keith Phipps

Evans is a revelation here, delivering a haunted performance that his previous work has only suggested he had in him. He gives the film a solid center, allowing others in the cast to explore the extreme.


CineVue by Patrick Gamble

Snowpiercer evolves steadily, growing richer with every step and slowly feeding us morsels of information - enriching this ludicrous premise with enough magic and wonder to suspend our disbelief entirely.


Variety by Scott Foundas

Snowpiercer has been brought to the screen with the kind of solid narrative craftsmanship, carefully drawn characters and — above all — respect for the audience’s intelligence rarely encountered in high-concept genre cinema.

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