SCI-FI; 2hr 6min
STARRING: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Ewen Bremner
Cargo cult: from left, Evans, Swinton, Bremner and Spencer
Tilda Swinton in any movie pretty well guarantees a keeper. In director Bong Joon-ho’s unreal thriller, an adaptation of the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, the eclectic actress goes to town as a jaunty, toothily-enhanced autocrat on a serpentine train that ceaselessly roams a frozen future world. Global warming having royally screwed the planet, its entire human population is on board. And 17 years in, the societal deal is as per, with the Haves living it up in superlative style at the pointy end while grimy, resentful Nots slum it in the rear, sustained by unspeakable protein blocks (shudder!) and kept in their abject place by hit squads of guards.
Led by the fittingly grim Evans, the Nots’ last-ditch strategy is to fight their way to the front of the train. Which they do, in diminishing numbers, and if there were a hell on Earth, Bong’s comprehensive bloodletting would surely be a dead ringer for it. Sparing no one, the Korean film-maker’s wicked imagination fast-tracks through twin poles of beauty and cruelty with lavish gusto. His train is a staggering time capsule, as venal, barbaric and uncompromising in its heartless demarcations as any totalitarian state.