SNOWPIERCER (2020) gets 8.5/10 As brutal as the cold

Season 5 Episodes 1-4

Developed by Josh Friedman and Graeme Manson
Screenplay by Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson
Starring Daveed Diggs, Jennifer Connelly, Mike O’Malley, Mickey Sumner, Alison Wright
Network: Netflix

Snowpiercer is a reboot of the 2013 South Korean-Czech Bong Joon-ho (Parasite, Okja) film of the same name. Based on the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, it follows the passengers of a gigantic, perpetually moving train of the same name, as it circles the globe carrying the remnants of humanity seven years after the world freezes over.

Visually, the series falls in line with many of Netflix’s original concepts, which is a potential let down from the original grit of the movie. The series questions class warfare, social injustice, and the politics of survival – themes currently in the forefront of everyone’s minds. If you’re a fan of the cult movie, you may find the series takes different turns – and for a sci-fi purist, this may not be the adaption you want.

But four episodes in, Snowpiercer is on the right track to be a powerful series and develop upon the strong foundations set by Bong Joon-ho’s theatrical adaption, known for its more subversive bite. Some moments might be hard to watch, featuring blood and gore, as well as emotionally traumatic scenes.

Music, and sound, feature prominently in the atmosphere and editing – especially in determining the class structure. The reboot also features the inclusion of espionage, and mystery, as we follow Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) as he investigates the murder of an upperclassman, using his past experiences as a homicide detective. Melanie from Hospitality (Jennifer Connelly), also known as the Voice of the Train, is the only first-class passenger without a serious hatred for the tail section – instead, harbouring curiosity for them and Layton – with a secret that arises by the end of the first episode and fleshed out by the fourth.

The second episode shows a brutality that is currently affecting the passengers, as well as the environmental challenges of circling the globe. It also highlights the philosophical question which has arisen in recent decades, what humanity will do for survival, as the upperclassmen find themselves unwitting cannibals. The third episode introduces the underground drug trade you might remember from the movie, and that even the elite fight for a freedom outside of Wilford’s Order. By the fourth episode, the murder is solved but a new threat looms over the train, and revolution is stirring.

There is an unease throughout the train, affecting every class, which Layton picks up on – especially in the unnerving behaviour of Melanie. The strength of the performances is carried by Diggs and Connelly, amplified by the supporting cast and writing quality. Despite going through years of development hell, Snowpiercer has come through the dark and provides a spotlight on themes currently facing us now – with the irony of climate change, class warfare, and injustices leading to this dystopian future… set ostensibly a year from now.

The series has already been renewed for a second season, with Sean Bean set to make an appearance.


Comments are closed.