Without intending to, the wife and I watched two action movies this weekend: Nonstop and Snowpiercer.

Nonstop vs Snowpiercer

Nonstop vs Snowpiercer

Both movies surprised us. Nonstop in that it was surprisingly bad and Snowpiercer in that more people aren’t talking about it.

Nonstop should have been a nice easy Liam Neeson-thriller – brave yet troubled guy saves the day – yet it fell flat. We found ourselves hung up on the logistics of the action and all the little improbabilities. Why was everyone so calm? How did the bomb get there? Are they really going with that movie trope? Oy.

Snowpiercer, on the other hand, quickly won us over. It’s dark. It’s weird. It’s beautiful. The director establishes the context for and the rules of this world from the first scene. An apocalyptic climate event has occurred. All life on earth is frozen – humans cannot survive outside. What is left of humanity lives on a train which circles the globe, piercing the snow, never stopping. Life on this train is defined by your class. The lowest of these classes wants to revolt.

Of these transportation based action films why is one so much better than the other? Is one story better than the other? Possibly. Is it the acting? Maybe. What about the cinematography? Perhaps. Above all these, I’d dare say, it’s the immersion into the movie world that matters most.

Nonstop takes us into a world we know – an airplane – and asks us to imagine a highly improbable situation. Snowpiercer takes us into an improbable future and asks us to exist there. There is no assumption that we would know what life is like on an ever moving train. It’s just a movie. Settle in and enjoy the film. You can’t ask for much more for an action movie – from any movie for that matter. As a side note, Tilda Swinton is fucking brilliant in this movie. She’s terrifying. She’s hilarious. She’s just plain weird. If for no other reason, you should see Snowpiercer for this glory:

snowpiercer tilda swinton God, she’s good.