I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies…but this month I am happy to be reviewing a film in my preferred genre that almost slipped by.
Chris Evans seems to be on a mission to show he can be more than just a superhero. Having been Johnny Storm and cementing himself as Captain America, I was surprised that he was able to convince me that he can do more. As the main character, Curtis, he delivered a performance that enthralled me and drove home some shocking points of the film.
John Hurt plays Gilliam and while the role seems somewhat cursory to what all else is happening in the film, I was surprised to find out his character had a much deeper impact than suspected. His performance was what I expected from such a veteran talent, even though this was only his third dystopian film.
Tilda Swinton is nearly unrecognizable as Mason, an administrator in charge of overseeing the back of the train. She invests so much in her role that there is actually elation when her character suffers some long overdue justice.
After an experiment in global warming goes horribly wrong, the Earth is thrust into another ice age that kill all life on the planet except for a handful (compared to the previous population) of people that were fortunate enough to board a specially designed train with a perpetual engine...on a track that spans the globe (taking exactly one year to travel the world).
Class-ism has also survived the end of the world as the privileged are at the front of the train enjoying all the comforts and amenities now extinct from the world, while the poor and downtrodden ride in the back living in squalor and decay.
Spurred on by mysterious messages from the front, Curtis decides it is time to lead a revolt, and take his people from the back of the train by attempting to travel to the front and seize control of the engine.
To accomplish his task, he has to free one of the designers of the train (Kang-ho Song) from prison in order to unlock the various gates that separate all the different sections that sustain the remaining remnants of human life on the planet.
What follows is mayhem and pandemonium with some of the most disturbing revelations I have seen on film in a while, accented by gratuitous violence (that surprisingly is less gory that it could have been) and some real life contemplation's that glue your eyes to the screen.
The whole idea of this film is brilliant science fiction. Based on a graphic novel, the idea of a super train designed to sustain humanity indefinitely by providing entire ecosystems is fascinating. Using class-ism and a military force to sustain the given roles is eerily reminiscent of much of what is going on now.
The direction of the film is also brilliantly done as the movie flows, seemingly with the speed of the train, as this new world of train life unfolds along with the plot to turn things around. The special effects enhance the story and the sparse, but excellent, use of slow motion and camera angles enhance some of the more important action sequences.
I found Curtis to be a flawed hero, meaning he is easy to identify with as all of us fall short of perfection. It’s not till later when we find out just how far he has fallen and you are forced to really contemplate the condition of life on the train, and the world in general, to even begin to empathize with some of the horror this film presents as its reality.
Although the film was engaging, exciting, shocking and interesting…the ending left me completely flat. Being science fiction meant that this film was certainly my cup of tea, but with an ending that didn't match the rest of the delivery, this film only pierced three cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.