Dan Holford’s review published on Letterboxd:
Tom's Cinema Volume 3 - movie 1 | task 2 - watch a science fiction film |
“Happy new year!”
Had no idea what to expect going into this, having only seen minimal clips and reviews. I really enjoyed it. An exciting and at times tense action thriller, with the neat concept of being set inside a huge train. It’s a concept that’s cleverly played out over the run time, with plenty of great action, and a great ensemble cast. It’s got a brilliant script, that not only delivers on more emotional character moments but has a lot of charm and humour to it as well.
Bong Joon Ho certainly does have a wide set of directional skills. I’ve only seen two of his movies before this (Mother and Parasite), and this is totally different, not only his first foray into the English language but also a big action blockbuster. Having a film set all on one single train doesn’t sound like a good idea, but he manages to make each carriage feel like a totally new and fresh location. There’s some really nice set designs for these carriages that make each one have its own personality. The plot is interesting and keeps the intrigue as we travel through these carriages, with some great interactions and dialogue from the characters.
The first couple of action scenes are little too generic, and feel like they suffer from that usual shaky camera effect, but once the film moves through the carriages the set pieces become far better. There’s some big stand out moments however, where the action feels exciting and tense, none of the characters feel safe, and it’s this that keeps the momentum moving. The fight scene before the ‘New Year’ moment is a stand out for me, which has some brilliant action and choreography before delivering a dose of humour that takes you by surprise.
My only bad point is that Chris Evans, while decent in his role, is somewhat of a generic action hero. There are moments of depth to his character but these come really late in the film. It’s probably more obvious because of how great some of the side characters are. Jamie Bell, Song Kang-Ho, Tilda Swinton, Jon Hurt, they all deliver brilliant performances with different, and originally feeling characters. The diverse cast come together really well too, all playing off of eachother really well as the film progresses through the train.
The climax is satisfying and played out nicely, it never feels rushed. Allowing plenty of smaller character moments before more bombastic action set pieces. A really great action block buster, that delivers exactly what you want.