Art is and always will be a very subjective thing, and not everything can turn out as intended, HOWEVER sometimes you just have to sit and marvel at how things actually ended up as this ‘snowman’ is already half melted before it even gets to the screen.
In the spirit of a crime procedural from another country that you’d watch on Netflix; The Snowman leans on some pretty goofy plot points and story beats from a script that may not have been 100% shot. However for those who enjoy their crime procedurals without any genuine scares or mystery and just want to be taken along for the ride, then there’s actually something here for you in this film which really doesn’t have much all of anything else.
When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.
In spite of the insanely high pedigree of so many people involved in this, The Snowman is truly a poor attempt to recapture the magic of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. It is all just too scattershot to resonate beyond fans of the crime procedural genre for whom this is still a somewhat endearing mess…with an emphasis on the word ‘mess’.
With stories now coming to light that director Tomas Alfredson didn’t actually shoot about 10-15% of the finished script, I have to say that this isn’t a surprise in the least. It comes off as a little disjointed and rushed as it wants to develop its characters but just isn’t given enough time to get it all done. It’s mostly serviceable as long as you don’t take it all that seriously and while Alfredson still has genuine talent in establishing a mis-en-scene and framing his visuals, they all really feel like they are going to waste in a narrative that isn’t all that more complex than an episode of Criminal Minds. The great Thelma Schoonmaker did what she could in the editing bay and I don’t doubt that she unquestionably helped raise this film out of the mire but there just wasn’t enough material to turn it into something truly memorable. The script is mired with logic jumps and abandoned plots points that you have to secretly wonder if it hoped we just weren’t paying attention to anything in this movie any more.
Fassbender settles into the deeply flawed every man type pretty darn well here but the problem is that we just don’t get to see him do all that much other then drink and brood over case files. He’s likeable but we know he’s a fuck up and no matter how cranky he gets while on a case he’s that one guy that we as an audience are supposed to get behind…and we do. Rebecca Ferguson’s part as his professional foil is a little all over the map while the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, David Denick, Chloe Sevigny, JK Simmons, James D’Arcy & Val Kilmer(in what has to be his strangest on screen appearance that may have very well been dubbed) all pop in and out of frame to varying degrees. The entire film suffers from a compelling case of overcasting, as all these talented people are around the story; they just don’t have a whole hell of a lot to do.
When you are watching a procedural like this in TV form, you forget and forgive the overly predictable plot points and sloppy storytelling because you just want to know who the killer is even though half the time you figured it out during the first twenty minutes anyway. The Snowman takes the trashy and cheap murder mystery form and stuffs it into a high profile feature shell with a shiny veneer that just doesn’t work. When your channel surfing and flipping through your Netflix cue this is something that you can just turn your brain off and forgive as a slick piece of filthy trash, but when you are paying movie theatre prices it just needs to be a lot slicker and a hell of a lot filthier in order for it to actually work.