Film and Plot Synopsis
Based on a French graphic novel and set in 2031, Snowpiercer tells the story of the last remaining survivors of humanity after a cataclysmic man made climate disaster plunges the planet into a life killing ice age. Curtis is the leader of a group of rebel fighters who progressively work their way forward from the rear of the thousand car super train that traverses the Earth in the hopes of confronting the train’s conductor and creator, Wilford. Fighting for their lives the entire way, Curtis’ group is shocked to learn that the other passengers on the train live very different lives than those who are assigned to the squalor of the tail.
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‘Snowpiercer’ Movie Summary
The rear passengers have attempted revolt several times over the years. The newest group of revolutionaries is led by the elder intellectual Gilliam (John Hurt) and his two lieutenants, Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) and Edgar (Jamie Bell). After two children are taken by Wilford’s assistant Claude (Emma Levie) for unknown purposes, Curtis learns that the guards’ guns have no ammunition. Curtis and Edgar lead a revolt that successfully takes control of several train cars with little resistance. Curtis’ group is joined by Tanya (Octavia Spencer) and Andrew (Ewen Bremner), the parents of the two children who are taken by Claude. Curtis works to take control of the prison car, which contains drawers for the storage of prisoners. Curtis is looking for a captive security specialist named Namgoong Minsoo (Song Kang-ho) after being directed to by mysterious notes that he has been receiving hidden inside the gelatin bars that the rear passengers receive for food. Namgoong insists that his daughter, Yona (Go Ah-sung), be released as well and negotiates his cooperation in opening the doors between train cars in exchange for a drug, known as Kronole, for both himself and his daughter.
Not long afterwards, Curtis’ group encounters resistance from a large group of guards with stabbing weapons who are led by Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton), the official mouthpiece for Wilford. Curtis’s group fends off the initial attack, but when the train enters a tunnel and the guards switch to night vision gear, the blinded rebels begin to fall quickly. Gilliam sends his bodyguard, Grey (Luke Pzsqualino), forward to the battle car with a torch which evens the odds. During the battle, Edgar is captured by Franco the Younger (Adnan Hasković). However, rather than saving Edgar, Curtis chooses to push forward to capture Mason. As a result, Edgar is fatally stabbed. Nonetheless, Curtis captures Mason and the remaining guard’s surrender as a result.
Curtis’s group continues to push forward to the water car, believing that their control of that car will help them negotiate for better terms. The group rests and regroups. However, the next day, Curtis leaves the bulk of his forces behind and continues forward with Namgoong, Yona, Grey, Tanya, Andrew, and the captured Mason. As the group moves forward through the train, they find that the level of wealth and luxuries grow grander and grander. Along the way, Namgoong notices a landmark along the railway and concludes that the ice appears to be melting on the landmark, a fact that he keeps to himself for the time being.
Eventually, the group reaches a children’s classroom, where a brain washed teacher (Alison Pill) attempts to indoctrinate the kids into believing Wilford’s greatness. As part of the lesson, a bald man (Tómas Lemarquis) enters the classroom with a large container of eggs to celebrate the eighteenth circumnavigation around the Earth by Snowpiercer. After delivering the eggs to the children and Curtis’ group, the bald man continues to the back of the train and eventually reaches the tail army. Once there, the bald man pulls out loaded automatic weapons from underneath the eggs and begins executing Curtis’ revolutionary group. The captured guard are freed, including another of Mason’s henchmen, Franco the Elder (Vlad Ivanov). At the same time, the teacher attempts to shoot and kill Curtis’ group in the classroom. However, she only kills Andrew before Grey kills her. Franco sends a broadcast to the classroom as he executes Gilliam. In return, Curtis kills Mason, who secretly knew that the attack was coming.
Curtis and his group continue to move forward in the train, now being pursued by Franco and the freed guards. Eventually Franco catches up to them in a steam room. Franco kills Grey and Tanya, but he himself is seemingly killed by Curtis and Namgoong. After the fight, Curtis, Namgoong, and Yona continue forward. In the next car, the trio finds a drug den where Namgoong quickly gathers more Kronole from the drugged-out passengers.
Eventually, the trio reaches the last car before the engine. Curtis asks Namgoong to open the last door to Wilford’s engine. Namgoong refuses and informs Curtis that he plans to use the Kronole, which is also an explosive, to blow the door to the outside so that he and Yona can escape. Namgoong reveals that he has noticed that the ice is melting and believes that they can survive on the outside. Curtis stops them and tells them that he needs to meet Wilford. Curtis tells them that on the early days of the train, that the tail passengers resorted to cannibalism and that he himself nearly killed and ate an infant Edgar. Curtis was stopped by Gilliam who offered up his own arm instead. Curtis’ carries the guilt of his vile acts and wants to confront Wilford on why he let that happen. During the conversation, Claude opens the door to the engine and wounds Namgoong before inviting Curtis into the engine.
In the engine, Curtis meets Wilford. The billionaire reveals that he and Gilliam conspired together to allow Curtis’ rebellion to occur to reduce the tail section’s population to levels that were sustainable. Wilford informs Curtis that he is having 74% of the tail section population killed. Wilford also reveals that he was the one sending secret messages to Curtis. A shocked and grief-stricken Curtis is even more surprised when Wilford offers Curtis his position leading the train. A dazed Curtis nearly accepts until Yona overpowers Claude and rushes into the engine compartment. Yong pulls up a floorboard and reveals Andrew and Tanya’s children, Andy (Karel Veselý) and Timmy (Marcanthonee Reis), working amongst the tight and dangerous engine gears as slaves. The sight of the children returns Curtis back to his senses. He knocks out Wilford and attempts to rescue Timmy from the machinery. Curtis sticks his arm into the metal gears, sacrificing his limb, to get Timmy out. Curtis gives Yona his matches to light the fuse for the Kronole. At the same time, Namgoong fights and kills several partygoers from the previous car, as well as Franco, who is revealed to still be alive. After the fuse for the Kronole is lit, Yona and Namgoong retreat into the engine compartment. However, the door to the engine will not close, so Namgoong and Curtis use their bodies to shelter Timmy and Yona from the explosion.
The explosion triggers an avalanche that derails and wrecks the train. Wilford, Claude, Andy, Curtis, and Namgoong are killed. Yona and Timmy bundle themselves and head out into the snow. They see a polar bear in the distance which confirms that life has returned to the world outside Snowpiercer.