Review: ‘The Snowman’ is not the worst Michael Fassbender has done, but it’s close

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Michael Fassbender in the thriller "The Snowman." (Jack English/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Michael Fassbender in the thriller "The Snowman." (Jack English/Universal Pictures via AP)

There are worse films than “The Snowman,” but the latest Michael Fassbender movie could very well be a contender for the Razzie award for Worst Picture.

After the dull, lackluster borefest that was last year’s “Assassin’s Creed,” the stakes were high for a Fassbender film to be as bad as that one, but “The Snowman” really comes close. We should honestly be worried about Fassbender right now. Why is one of our generation’s greatest actors making many of our generation’s god-awful movies?

Directed by Tomas Alfredson, “The Snowman” is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø, revolving around the fictional Oslo detective Harry Hole. Played by Fassbender, Harry in the movie is Norway’s greatest detective, who kills his spare time with vodka. He is an alcoholic, but his addiction has nothing to do with his character or has any implications to the plot of the movie; he just is for the sake of it. And that is how most of “The Snowman” plays out. Things just happen out of the blue and when everything comes full circle by the time the movie ends, it’s as if there was never really a movie at all. Confused yet? “The Snowman” tries very hard at being a serious movie that it almost ends up feeling like a comedy. This is mostly due to how bizarre the plot is.

Harry meets rookie cop Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), who is illegally carrying out an investigation on a rich Norwegian business mogul called Arve (J.K. Simmons), who is trying to win the bid to host the Winter Olympics at Oslo himself. At the same time, there is a serial killer on the loose decapitating single mothers, due to the killer’s discovery as a child that his deranged uncle was his father. The killer strangely delegates guilt to his mother’s silence, though she was sexualy abused by the uncle. In between these two convoluted plots lies another plot about former Oslo detective Gert Rafto (Val Kilmer) and his own investigation into the snowman killer. While all of this transpires, we are led to believe all three plots are bound to intersect, and while they do, albeit roughly, Gert’s plot is presented to be happening in the past. This creates a structural mess that you’ll only understand when the movie finally spoon feeds you an explanation 15 minutes before it ends. And thank the universe it does.

Interweaving the past, future and present has been done many times before in films like “Cloud Atlas” and “Arrival,” but the execution in “The Snowman” is absolutely terrible, in part due to the film’s editing. Scenes feel random at times and various cuts from one shot to the next are so disorienting, it’s shocking. “The Snowman” was edited by Oscar-winning editors Thelma Schoonmaker (“Raging Bull,” “The Aviator”) and Claire Simpson (“Platoon”). But broken plots and bad editing are not all that’s wrong with “The Snowman.”

The characters in the movie are completely lifeless and one-dimensional. Fassbender tries to add depth to his character, but the compounding elements that make up the film—the boring script, the other characters, the crazy plot, etc.—are quick to undermine his effort. Even acting veterans like J.K. Simmons are stuck with characters that could’ve been played exceptionally well by an up-and-coming actor to the same effect.

There are a lot of things wrong with this movie, but at least “The Snowman” is not as bad as “Assassin’s Creed.” Though I’d rather watch certain parts of “Assassin’s Creed” over the entirety of “The Snowman,” as a Fassbender film, this is not the worst he’s done (that honor still goes to “Assassin’s Creed”). But Fassbender shouldn’t be making bad films nonetheless. He is a tremendous actor that deserves nothing but success. Unfortunately, “The Snowman” is a movie only worth watching when it comes on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Rating: 2.5/5


Carlos Rosario Gonzalez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at carlos.rosario_gonzalez@uconn.edu.