When a person plans a revolution, it is always hard to estimate the amount of sacrifices there will be. Leading one to question: Is the future you’re fighting for worth the blood it will take to run the engine?
Review (with Spoilers)
I have delayed seeing this film for a few weeks now, and after watching it, I do feel like I delayed perhaps the most gratifying experience I have ever had watching a movie. This two-hour long epic is the type of film which makes me glad I know how to communicate through writing because I feel a bit speechless. So, with an intro like that, let’s talk about the film.
Characters & Story
In 2014, world leaders have seemingly found a way to end global warming using what is called “CW7.” A chemical released into the atmosphere which is supposed to undo the majority of the damage human evolution has done over eons. However, what ends up happening is an ice age. One in which a train full of people represent the last remains of humanity.
Thus leading us to meet the main character Curtis (Chris Evans) who is the leader of those who live in the back of the train. Now, the way the train is setup is: first class, where all the rich live who seemingly don’t work what so ever; economy class, of which there are those who work for the first class; and then there are the freeloaders, who were lucky enough to get on the train. This system has been in place for 17, going on 18, years. People have been born and died on that train, and naturally, there have been attempts at revolution. None of which had Curtis at the helm, though.
Leading us on an adventure in which Curtis, alongside the proposed leader Gilliam (John Hurt); Edgar (Jamie Bell), who seems to be Curtis’ right hand man; Tanya (Octavia Spencer), a woman seeking to get back her son; Namgoong Minsu (Song Kang-ho) & Yona (Go Ah-sung), who work together to open the gates and doors separating the tail end civilians from the front; all face off against Mr. Wilford (Ed Harris) and Mason (Tilda Swinton) in an attempt to establish a new order by almost any means necessary.
It is highly rare for me to sit until the end of a movie’s credits, and that is because once the movie seemingly has ended, I feel I have gotten all I could want out of it. However, with this film I was hoping for one more scene, one more gift bestowed before the screen went black. That is how consuming this film is. Within those two hours, you find yourself quickly attaching yourself to Curtis’ revolution and with each sacrifice made, you want to tighten your fist and join the fight.
All this though is thanks to both the acting and story. To begin, Chris Evans, who has come so far since Not Another Teen Movie, fits the tortured hero role so well he seems like he was written by a Greek playwright. His role as the leader of the downtrodden shows those who may have never seen Captain America, which his performance is inspiring me to watch, why he will indubitably have lead roles for decades to come. For, just as much as he can play some silly comic role, he can play this deeply troubled soul, whose judgment is questionable, and yet you still see him as a hero no matter what, or who, he sacrifices. Of course, the rest of the cast deserves praise as well for they each represent a different type of hope. Curtis represents the hope of change; Tanya represents the hope of a mother; and Namgoong Minsu represents the hope of the future.
Of which is perhaps the story’s main focus. Every few years there is a rebellion, and all have failed. Yet we get to see this beautifully written rebellion which strangely has the ability to quickly get you wrapped up in characters’ lives; make you want to root for them every time a battle is impending; and damn if you aren’t torn when some of them seemingly won’t make it to see their dreams come forth into reality. But even then, as each glimmer representing hope dies, one shines a bit brighter and you hope it all will be worth it in the end.
Honestly, the sole issue I had in the film was Swinton’s character Mason, who seemed almost like a comic relief. The way she spoke, the way the character was acted, I would have wanted her dead even if she wasn’t a villain. Also, and maybe I just missed it on occasion, the film employs a universal translator so Curtis and Namgoong Minsu can talk to one another, but sometimes it seems nowhere to be found when they speak. Overall, though, there aren’t any huge issues which could ruin the experience.
Overall: Worth Seeing
This is the type of film you wished was a mini-series. First, because it is an adaptation of the graphic novel Le Transperceneige, of which I can only hope there are more details within. Then, secondly, it is because you get so attached to these characters, their hope, and the overall story, that you really don’t want things to end. And yet, when you can see the end is near, the film keeps up this interesting pace by switching out the action scenes with the type of reveals which could make your jaw drop, or at the very least surprise you a little bit. And overall, I think this is worth watching because out of all these post-apocalyptic movies that have been coming out over the last few years, this is the first one, I know of, which isn’t some young adult book adaptation which seems more focused on the lead’s love life over their struggle against their oppressors. Something strangely refreshing, at least to me.