The Snowman, based on Jo Nesbø’s best-selling novel of the same name, has the ingredients of a great thriller. They are: A talented cast, a talented filmmaker (Tomas Alfredson, of Let the Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), edited by a legendary editor (Thelma Schoonmaker, who collaborated with Martin Scorsese for years), and it has an interesting mystery at its core. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer is simple: EVERYTHING!
Michael Fassbender stars as Harry Hole (I later found out it was pronounced “hol-eh”, not the correct English way), a police inspector of the Oslo Crime Squad. He is assigned to investigate a series of murders of women on the first winter’s snow Along with Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), Harry uses his police skills to take down the killer, who keeps threatening him with letters.
Believe it or not, legendary director Martin Scorsese was attached to direct the film at one point until Alfredson took the director’s chair. I love a good mystery, and there is so much potential to be had with The Snowman. But–it doesn’t deny it from being an incoherent mess. One of the main reasons why the movie sucks is that Alfredson stated that a part of the screenplay didn’t make it into the film, causing him to rush production. According to The Playlist, he said, “It’s like when you’re making a big jigsaw puzzle and a few pieces are missing so you don’t see the whole picture.”
I did read the book prior to the movie’s release, and I enjoyed it. Comparing the movie to a good book, the film’s mystery hardly makes any lick of sense. None of the characters are interesting and the plot holes are massive.
Fassbender has been in a lot of great movies. Known for playing young Magneto in the X-Men films, a nasty slave owner in 12 Years a Slave (in which he received an Oscar nomination for), and the founder of Apple in Steve Jobs, I have never seen him play a character so dull and cliched. It’s clear from the beginning that he has a drinking problem and is a heavy smoker. The audience barely sees him do any police work that is considered great. With a supporting cast featuring Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, Toby Jones, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, this is a such a wasted opportunity. Val Kilmer earns the strangest-performance-of-the-year award as a police officer whose involvement in the investigation is connected somehow. How can you not crack up at his overdubbed voice?
There is a possibility we will get another adaptation of The Snowman in the future that is worth watching. But–if you want to see a good Scandinavian thriller with a mystery that feels complete, watch either the original Swedish version or David Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They are both brutal yet keep you on the edge of your seat. The Snowman is just as entertaining as getting your wisdom teeth removed.