In this film, Captain America, the ruthless Dictator from V for Vendetta and Ed Harris travel on a train around a frozen wasteland of a world.
Set in a post apocalyptic 2014, in which the world has sought to curb global warming by releasing a chemical compound into the atmosphere, however the compound worked too well and they’ve brought in a new ice age and the last of humanity exists on a lone train circling around the world.
So the story tells us, at the last moment the train took on additional passengers who have been left in the last train car to create their own ghetto of a sort, with deliveries of a brown protein gelatin being brought in regularly by soldiers.
As time goes on, members of this low caste get reassigned to fill a role in the upper echelons of society, if a skill is needed, it is filled from where ever it can be, but one day they take two small children, which is really a tipping point.
You see Captain America has been receiving messages in the food for some time, tiny little metal containers with simple instructions to help lead him to a revolution, and now is the time.
Those long forgotten members of society push forward, managing to make significant headway up the train, even taking a 1970’s looking Tilda Swinton hostage, it isn’t long before old Capt and a rag tag bunch (including a drug addict with an unwavering ability to open the security doors) make it through firefights and all manner of surprises, getting to the first carriage, where Ed Harris tells our poor Captain that his entire life, his entire revolution has been masterminded by himself and Captain America’s best friend John Hurt, with the goal that the population gets cut down to a more manageable level.
But Harris tells America that it is more than this, that he wants the Captain to become the new head honcho for the train, fun ensues.
All through this, our friendly neighbourhood drug addict reveals he’s not actually using the drugs to get high, but seeing as the local drug supply is actually made from toxic waste and is quite explosive, and his own plans include using his supply to open a security door to the outside world.
Right, that’s basically the plot, without excessive spoilers, now hear me roar about this.
I enjoyed this film, it’s the kind dystopian setting I like, with people struggling just to be treated like humans through out everything, the idea of running on a train is unique and interesting, but it unfortunately opens up big questions such as HOW ARE THEY MAKING THE TRAIN MOVE LIKE THIS, I mean really, it’s been 18 years so where is the train getting fuel from?
Then we consider that the train is essentially a closed system (as mirrored with a train car that houses an aquarium) and yet they manage to continually feed people, we see a shot of a giant processor turning bugs into mulch to create the protein gel for the poor to eat, but everything is a finite resource, even the bugs would quickly run out if you don’t manage them.
Then we have the entire purpose of the rebellion, and the rebellions that have come before it, Harris tells us that they’re needed to keep the population at a suitable level, but this mentality goes contrary to the generosity Harris would have shown in letting them all on the train in the first place.
Then we have to wonder if inciting a revolution is the best way to control population size, as in this instance we’re told that 74% of the population will have to be culled in order to maintain equilibrium, but then if such drastic numbers are needed, surely things are already in a steady state of decline.
It would be much more effective for Harris’ character to have created a system in which the poor are given a “promotion” to first class, where in reality they’re being brought to slaughter, this would allow long term population control with more reliability.
An of course it’s not about keeping the overall population under control, as the entire revolution ended up killing so many of the regular first class passengers that none of the “coach” passengers really needed to be killed.
Then of course we have a train that is running solid for 18 years, apparently to the point that parts are breaking down, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THINGS DO, replacing the parts just isn’t feasible and as mirrored early in the film, things need to be done by hand, but after such a long time it’s lucky as hell that the parts that broke can be replaced by children.
Not to mention, this is a regular train, it’s the regular train width, so it’s not entirely huge, which means you don’t get fancy walk ways if you want to get from the front to the back of the train, so if everyone in the habitat cars wants to go to work in the prison cars, they have to get through the school room, which makes virtually no sense as anyone who has to go through during the day will be disturbing the children, it would have made more sense to make a larger size train for such a thing, hell it would still be just as easy to have the heroes make it into the schoolroom regardless.
The film takes many liberties, expecting us to believe Jamie Bell is 18, that children can replace machinery, that after 18 years there’s still a big supply of bugs to feed the poor and that though the world is starting to warm up, the calculations concerning the frozen limb punishments are still spot on.
Oh, did I forget to mention this? If you misbehave, they can stick your arm outside the train til it freezes solid, they have a port they can stick your limbs out through…
Seriously this entire system is built to create a rebellion in the lower class, they’re pushed down and abused, there’s systems in place to punish them that ultimately have no other purpose, the train seems to be built upon the idea of making people want to revolt.
Now, regardless of this, I did actually enjoy the film, it’s certainly one of the better Dystopic film attempts that Hollywood has made, certainly a lot better than cloning Tom Cruise a thousand times.
You just have to forgive some of the content, that’s all.