Quick Take: The Snowman coming to theaters is not the film teased in the trailer. This is not a horror movie. This is not Harry Hole detective story. This mishmash of a script should not be mistaken for a story derived from a Joe Nesbø plotline.
I don’t know exactly what director Tomas Alfredson hoped to accomplish by stripping all the compelling and enriching character and story elements that make Nesbø’s complicated anti-hero work on the page but this film’s barely interesting, let alone a thriller.
Somehow – despite having access to amazing source material – screenwriters Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini and Søren Sveistrup bungled this script so horribly no cast, no matter how A-list, could stumble into a decent story. That coupled with Alfredson’s inexplicable directorial decisions, created a film so empty and unresolved that not even staring at Michael Fassbender or Rebecca Ferguson makes it worth sneaking in to see.
Grade: C- (strictly due to being absolutely beautiful to look at)
The Details: The Snowman features Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) central character in international bestselling author Jo Nesbø’s ever-ambitious Harry Hole detective novels. The series has eleven books and is known for fast-paced, complex, and suspenseful plots and mysteries that are engrossing from beginning to end.
The film, like the series, is set in Oslo Norway and Dion Beebe’s cinematography makes for a gorgeous and moody backdrop. The entire production team should be given bonuses because the look and feel were dead on perfection.
It has the international edge Nesbø’s series is known for and conveys a grittiness tailor-made for what should be an intense and thrilling hunt for a serial killer. But it seems, the filmmakers didn’t get the memo about story pacing, or plot cohesion, or character investment because this movie holds together – despite being over-long – just enough to disappoint you on all fronts.
Harry Hole (pronounced “holy”) is a detective without equal and his reputation and work are regarded as such among his peers. Harry, the cop, is unfailingly brilliant, and frequently exhibits uncanny intuitive and detective skills. He is one of the elite. But like all genius-level crime fighters, Harry has serious issues. He’s a commitment-phobic, binge drinking, hot mess of a man. Respecting his work and liking him despite himself is the end-result of following along with him through his investigations. But you wouldn’t know it from this film.
Alfredson’s Harry Hole has no redeeming qualities. It’s barely possible to take him seriously as a detective – let alone view him as anything other than a has-been whose boss would be bettered served by cutting him lose than covering for him – because you barely see him do more than glance at a case file. There’s only one short scene that even hints at his unusual investigative skills. You never really learn anything about him. He’s just a drunk who seems occasionally on the ball when he’s sober-ish.
Despite opening with a well-crafted flashback sequence that sets an ominous tone and leaves plenty of threads you’re hoping to see pull together later on; The Snowman has no logical narrative direction. All that great opening work ultimately proves to be is just one massive data dump to make up for a serious lack of emotional content, character development, or coherent script direction that is the rest of this film.
I know people are still going to see the film so I won’t spend the time – and I sooo could – tearing into it until I feel like the moments of my life I’ll never get back weren’t a complete waste, but it must be said:
The Snowman does a piss-poor job of telling what should be a multi-layered complex crime story. You’re barely invested – even though they had the time and cast to pull it off – before the film shoves its insultingly obvious conclusion in your face. The script purports to tell parallel but connected stories it fails to dedicate adequate time to either resulting in rushed endings and a messy unresolved feeling all around. The scenes revolving around Hole’s personal life are unmoving and uninformative filler in the long run.
Then, this film commits the ultimate sin for a crime thriller, hardly any energy goes into the actual hunt for the killer. This is supposed to be a cat-and-mouse game with saving lives and uncovering the murder as the ultimate prize. Instead, you get a shoddy character-driven drivel where the characters are so paper-thin nothing is a surprise and there are hardly any sinister thrills or chills to be had.This is a waste of a thriller and an ill-fitting end to what should’ve been a bad ass killer.
Even after thinking back on it before writing this, I have yet to figure out why they even bothered to keep J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer, or Rebecca Ferguson’s scenes in the final cut because they completely wasted them both in this movie.
I was bored and writing that sentence about a movie based on Joe Nesbø novel just pisses me off.
Overal Rating: 2 out of 5
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