There is so much wrong with “The Snowman,” I thought I would first focus on the one positive just to be a decent guy.
The movie is grandly and unapologetically Scandinavian (albeit with an English-speaking cast). Set in Norway and directed by a Swede (Tomas Alfredson of “Let the Right One In” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” fame), this movie leans all the way into the Arctic Circle— which is a unique and interesting setting to wander around in.
From the snowy landscapes to the immaculately clean cities to a music “concert” where an unenthused crowd watches a bald man gyrate and scream on stage to one-lane bridges that connect impossibly remote cottages, this movie has it all.
In a lot of ways, “The Snowman” is like IKEA made a movie; and then they asked you to assemble it without any instructions.
So, this thing’s a crime thriller about a serial killer who leaves creepy little snowmen at the scene of his crimes. Michael Fassbender plays a drunken, broken detective named Harry Hole (I’m just going to set this down right here and walk away).
So, not off to the greatest start, but I was willing to roll with it until it became abundantly clear this movie was held together by Scotch Tape and the ghost of Stieg Larsson.
Nobody’s motivation in this movie makes any sense. Not Fassbender, not the killer, not his lady-partner/love interest (Rebecca Ferguson), and not even a millionaire industrialist who may or may not be involved (J.K. Simmons). None of them have any good reason for doing what they do in this movie. They’re all just sort of bouncing off of each other.
The biggest tipoff, though, this movie is going right off the rails is the appearance of Val Kilmer. The venerable actor has been out of the spotlight for a few years battling oral cancer and his appearance in this movie is brief, bizarre, and has a deep-voiced actor badly dubbing over his lines like he walked straight into the Norwegian cold directly from a Shaolin warrior afternoon kung fu double feature.
The fact they didn’t just recast his part or wait until he could talk says a lot about the laziness of this movie.
I could go into the myriad of other problems with this film, like how it shifts tone from moody and introspective to shockingly violent or how there’s hardly any emotional connection to any of the characters, but I won’t.
Instead, I’m going to do what the makers of “The Snowman” should have done in the first place— cut my losses, and move on. You would be wise to do the same.
“The Snowman” is rated R for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality, and brief nudity.