Never a great sign for a movie when one is a mere 30 minutes in and thinking, "Why the hell did I come to this thing?" Yet one might be forgiven in the case of The Snowman—the new Michael Fassbender flick that's infiltrated everyone's Facebook walls for weeks on end—since it looks like it'll at least be thrilling. But thrilling it ain't, though it definitely is long.
Fassbender is Harry Hole (yeah—Hole), a Norwegian detective amalgam of similar hardboiled cops torn from airport bookstore lit. He's the kind of guy who drinks too much, cares too hard and seemingly has no problem burning down every positive relationship in his life, including that of former flame Rakel (a barely-there Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her son Oleg. Harry starts getting letters from a maniac who not only likes to kill people but likes to build snowmen, though outside of the "Ohmygod, there's a snowman here!" revelations it brings, there's really no point beyond a thinly veiled and horrible stab at serial killer trophy tropes or symbology. We'll save you the trouble—there actually isn't any, and despite Fassbender's best attempts at portraying poor Harry as damaged, he really just seems like an asshole. Man, first Assassin's Creed and now this. Bummer, Fassbender.
Elsewhere, middling or nearly-forgotten actors like Chloe Sevigny or Val Kilmer pop up as runtime padding and poorly constructed motivators for pointless supporting characters. JK Simmons even appears, though his character may as well have been named Red Herring. All of this, of course, pales in comparison to the "payoff," wherein we don't give a shit who the bad guy has been no matter how surprising it's meant to be.
It's especially disappointing that The Snowman comes to us courtesy of director Tomas Alfredson, whose previous works like Let the Right One In or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy were at worst well-crafted, at best downright excellent—and though the streets and countrysides of Norway are gorgeous, even they can't make us like this thing. This kind of makes The Snowman feel like the discarded pages of some never-released Girl with the Dragon Tattoo story that's barely passable even as a distraction.
We can't stress this enough: Do not see this movie.
+ Norway sure is pretty
– Literally everything else
Directed by Alfredson
With Fassbender, Gainsbourg, Sevigny and Kilmer
Regal, Violet Crown, R, 119 min.