When it comes to movies based on books they can be hits like The Hunt for Red October or a dud like Alex Cross. Enter The Snowman which is based on a book bearing the same name by Jo Nesbo. The film stars Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hole (I’ll let you make the jokes there.) Hole works for the Oslo police department and is one of their greatest detectives that the department has ever had. He teams up with a younger detective named Katrine Bratt played by Rebecca Ferguson to track down a killer who strikes during the first snowfall of every storm and leaves behind a snowman as his calling card. Rounding out the cast are J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jonas Karlsson and Val Kilmer. It was directed by Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and produced by Martin Scorsese.
The trailers for The Snowman are cut and edited to give the tone that the film is almost a horror film when it is far from it. That is the first issue with this movie. The second is that the film takes so long to get going that by half way through, the audience has given up on not only the story but the characters as well. Let’s dive into the writing here for a bit. The dialogue in this movie is very dry and shotty and you can tell that the actors are trying to do their best with what they are given but it ultimately falls flat.
I haven’t even mentioned the subplots in the movie that end up going no where as well. The first terrible subplot involves Arve Stop (Simmons) and his involvement in the bidding process for Oslo to get the Winter World Cup and he also ends up becoming a person of interest in the case because of his involvement in an old missing persons case turned murder. Val Kilmer has the worst subplot of all as a detective with the Bergen police department named Rafto who takes the case that is linked to Arve Stop. The whole subplot with Rafto is all flashbacks that leads to a “shocking” revelation towards the beginning of the third act of the film.
When it comes to the main story of the movie, it really is a paint by numbers story and to be honest about a quarter of the way into the movie I had already figured out who the killer was. The writers try to string the audience along with twists and turns but it never really goes anywhere. There also is no real motivation to why the killer is doing what he is doing other than a past trauma that is in a flashback that seemed unnecessary.
The only positive I can really take away from this film is that it is gorgeous to look at and the scenery of Norway is something to behold on the big screen.
I really wanted to like this movie but it ultimately falls flat and the tone is all over the place and I have to fault the director for that. Also the movie tries to set up a sequel and after this one I can honestly say it most likely will not be getting one.
1 Snowman out of 5