The Snowman


Director: Tomas Alfredson.
Screenplay: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan, Søren Sviestrup.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chloë Sevigny, J.K. Simmons, Jonas Karlsson, Adrian Dunbar, James D’Arcy, Genevieve O’Reilly, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer, David Dencik, Jamie Clayton, Michael Yates, Ronan Vibert.

“You could save them you know… gave you all the clues and everything”

Michael Fassbender may be of the one of the most talented and reliable actors of his generation but the same can’t always be said about some of his film choices. Assassin’s Creed only added to another failed video-game adaptation and his work with Ridley Scott on Prometheus, Alien: Covenant and The Counselor also failed to impress (although, I was admittedly one of the few admirers of the latter film). My point being, though, is that he’s not quite as bankable as he once was. Over recent years, you’re just as likely to catch a stinker as you are a work of quality and The Snowman doesn’t do anything to remedy this issue.

Plot: Alcoholic, crime squad detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) finds himself on the trail of an elusive serial killer who kills when the first snow of winter falls. With the help a new recruit (Rebecca Ferguson) he has to compare the new case with old ones in order to connect the dots and track down the killer that’s been on the loose for some time.

Originally intended as another Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio project before having Ridley Scott attached it. Due to delays, DiCaprio walked away, Scorsese ended up as executive producer and Scott walked as well. It could’ve been time constraints that led to them distancing themselves or just maybe these two experienced directors seen problems ahead and made a wise choice. There are undeniable problems and if truth be told, I fell asleep on the first viewing and went back to it again thinking that I hadn’t given it my full attention and may have missed something. Turns out, the best thing I could’ve done was catch some shut-eye. The film is sleep-inducingly dull and lacks so much narrative drive that it’s hard to keep your eyes open.

Put simply, it’s a ridiculously lazy film with an insultingly lazy script. The sheer incoherence of it makes no difference whether you’ve slept through it or not. It’s the quality involved that makes this a surprisingly awful endeavour though; there’s Fassbender, of course, and also the usually reliable J.K. Simmons in the cast; there’s Oscar nominated screenwriters in Frank‘s Peter Straughan and Drive‘s Hossien Amini penning the script to the 7th novel in Jo Nesbø’s taut Harry Hole crime series and director Tomas Alfredson coming off the back of two solid critical hits in Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In and the labyrinthine adaptation of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. So what is the problem? The problem obviously stems from it being a rushed production. Apparently, Fassbender started shooting only two days after wrapping Assassin’s Creed, and his exhaustion shows. Jonny Greenwood also created a score that ended up not getting used and Alfredson also claims that he came late to the production and that 15% of the screenplay was never actually filmed. You can tell. There are more plot holes here than you can shake a Harry Hole at and the narrative is so painfully slow that any snowmen getting built would’ve thawed out long before an investigation even got going.

It’s such a shame that this really didn’t come together as all the ingredients are in place and had some genuine potential. In fact, it’s astonishing how poor it is with the quality involved and it looks like any hope of a Harry Hole franchise could already be dead in the water while Michael Fassbender best be careful if he wants to retain his reputation. To be fair, the film’s problems don’t particularly lie with him but he needs to seriously take stock and be bit more discerning and choose projects more worthy of his abilities. Who knows? Maybe it’s no one’s fault and this is just a classic casualty of production difficulties and time constraints that led to no one being able to do their jobs effectively. What could’ve been a suspenseful thriller ends up about as thrilling as eating yellow snow.

Don’t stay out in the cold too long with this one or you might catch a serious doze of incurable mediocrity. And never mind the misleading title of “The Snowman”. It should’ve taken its name from its anatomy instead… Snow balls.

Mark Walker

Trivia: All of Val Kilmer’s lines are dubbed throughout the film. According to a Reddit AMA in May 2017, Kilmer disclosed that he had “a healing of cancer,” and his tongue “was still swollen although healing all the time.”

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13 Responses to “The Snowman”

  1. Snowballs lol! Those last lines really ICE this one nicely. I’m so glad I stayed away from The Snowman. Can’t believe how bad it sounds with that talent involved! Another fairly recent example was Cameron Crowe’s Aloha. Remember how bad that thing got skewered?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was a piece of shit, man! You made the right choice avoiding it. I only checked it out cause I liked the book and I wanted to see why people hated it so much. I shouldn’t have bothered.

      Aloha, is one I didn’t catch up with. That’s a real a shame, though, as I normally quite like Cameron Crowe’s films. I might still get around to that one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I now can’t remember why I had high expectations for this. But everyone has said avoid it so I have.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The trailer for this got my attention, but it sounds like the finished product was an absolute shambles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A shambles it is, Vinnie. I quite enjoyed the book but the film is an absolute mess. Fassbender really needs to watch himself now. He’s better taking a step back and regrouping because some of the shit he’s appearing in is doing his career no favours at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most of the time, it’s hard to match the level of the book. Though it’s a bummer when it is completely abysmal. I’m sure Fassbender will find something worthy of his talents soon. He’s too good of an actor not too.

        Like

  4. I’m a huge Fassbender fan too and hope he gets better projects going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so disappointing to see his talents wasted in crap like this Lloyd. I wish he’d be a bit more discerning in his choices.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can see how everybody thought this was going to be great. A million things have to come together on a film. On the other hand sometimes productions do get undermined by last minute budget cuts and changes of talent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It definitely had potential Lloyd. I was first became interested when I heard it was planned as a Scorsese and DiCaprio project but when Alfredson and Fassbender took over, I still thought it would be good. Sadly, it does seem that the productions issues really took hold and it’s ended up a disaster as result. It’s a shame!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I keep hearing how bad this is, which is a pity. I have the book but haven’t read that yet, though that seems to be worth a read. Generally though, the book is usually better. Unless it is Drive, in which case, skip the stinker book and lap up that perfect movie. Great review Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

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