At one point during the The Snowman, detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) can be heard saying, “You can’t force the pieces to fit.” He says that to his partner, Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), but it’s advice this feature’s creators should’ve heeded, too. The Snowman, based on the novel by Jo Nesbø; directed by Tomas Alfredson and written by Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan, is supposed to be an intense race to find and stop a serial killer in Norway. Instead, it’s an unfocused mess which deserves to be seen for its sheer ridiculousness.

At first glance, The Snowman should be a slam dunk. At one point Martin Scorsese was on board to direct. He ultimately had to step down but he stayed on as executive producer. His vacancy made way for Alfredson, who’s done well for himself as helmer of such films as Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. As far as writers go, Amini wrote 2011’s critically-hailed Drive, while Straughan worked with Alredson on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (and penned the indie favorite Frank). So behind the camera things seemed to be covered.

There was plenty of talent in front of the camera, too. Fassbender, although still seeking that one role which will define him as an A-list star, is still considered one of best actors working - and plays the main character. Rebecca Ferguson made a huge impression in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, came on board as a major supporting character. Add to them Charlotte Gainsbourg, Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, Toby Jones and James D’Arcy (Dunkirk), and seemingly the production is all set from nearly every perspective.

Alas, it was not to be. The Snowman will be remembered as a production with wasted talent. In recent interviews, Alfredson stated about 10-15% of the film wasn’t even shot, so it’s essentially a rough cut with plenty of incoherence. But even with that knowledge the completed film was comprised of a bunch of puzzle pieces clumsily jammed together to make… something. So many questions are raised – why does the serial killer use snowmen as his calling card (*crickets*)? Why in the world is the main character’s surname Hole (Nesbo’s book stated it’s supposed to be pronounced ho-lay)? Is Rebecca Ferguson in the right movie (this is The Girl on the Train, right?)? What in the world is up with that accent Simmons used (this is how I normally talk!)? Was that possibly the worst love scene in all of cinema (that was supposed to be sex?)? The questions are all over the place, which is a normal reaction to a feature which, too, is scattered about randomly like an irresponsible leader’s tweets.

Alfredson’s latest is full of subplots which never materialize. The Snowman Killer likes to leave clues, and early on sent Harry a note. The note hints at a possible connection between the gruff alcoholic cop and the mysterious killer, but it’s never explored. Another subplot involves Katrine and her obsession with Simmons’ character, Arve Støp. She obviously harbors some sort of personal vendetta, but that, too, goes nowhere. And in what could be the biggest “what the hell” moment in 2017, Val Kilmer makes an appearance as another alcoholic cop whose lips don’t match his words. His Gert Rafto is something out of a Shaw Brothers film. In addition, one can't help but comment that he now resembles a human Yoda, but uglier.

One would have to dig deep to find something positive about The Snowman. If anything, one can say the editing is good (okay, decent) because Claire Simpson had little to work with. Thelma Schoonmaker, who’s edited all of Scorsese’s films since Raging Bull, was brought in to make lemonade out of poop. She did well to simply remove the stench. But beyond her control this still looks like crap.

Needless to say, The Snowman is a trainwreck. It may actually be as bad as Transformers: The Last Knight, but everyone knows that entire franchise is garbage. This should be so much better but it’s not. It’s good for unintentional laughs, and during these trying times any humor is welcome. Just don’t go in expecting a good movie.

1.5 stars out of 5


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