THE SNOWMAN (director: Tomas Alfredson; screenwriters: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan, Soren Sveistrup, based on the novel by Jo Nesbø; cinematographer: Dion Beebe; editors: Claire Simpson, Thelma Schoonmake; music: Tomas Alfredson; cast: Michael Fassbender (Harry Hole), Rebecca Ferguson (Katrine Bratt), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Rakel), Jonas Karlsson (Mathias), J.K. Simmons (Arve Stop), David Dencik (Vetlesin) Val Kilmer (Gert Rafto), Toby Jones (DC Svensson), Chloe Sevigny (Sylvia Ottersen/Ane Pedersen), James D'Arcy (Filip Gecker), Michael Yates (Oleg); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Piodor Gustafsson, Robyn Slovo; Universal; 2017)

"The gruesome and graphic crime thriller should be a treat for those who love the genre (like me), but is let down because both the characters and story are muddled."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A snow-bound moody serial-killer whodunnit directed with caution by Tomas Alfredson ("Let The Right One In"/"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"). It's based on the 2007 novel by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø and is obtusely written by Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan and Soren Sveistrup. The thriller, with fabulous location shots, is set in Oslo and Bergen. The gruesome and graphic crime thriller should be a treat for those who love the genre (like me), but is let down because both the characters and story are muddled. The film is also overlong and too many red herrings keep things unpleasantly murky.

The bizarre murders of mothers who had abortions take place
after the year’s first snowfall, with snowmen having coffee bean mouths left at the crime scene and soon afterwards the grisly found results follow of the dismembered vics. After another serial killing, the unconventional legendary lead investigator, the chain-smoking and vodka swigging Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is called in to head the investigation and is aided by a brilliant and feisty recruit (Rebecca Ferguson, Swedish actress).

The art-dealer Charlotte Gainsbourg is fun as Harry's ex-wife and on/off squeeze. The always engaging J.K. Simmons is a blast as the debauched philanthropist, talking with an English accent. He is head of the Norway winter games bid. Val Kilmer (whose lines were dubbed because the ill actor couldn't speak clearly) is an alcoholic manic homicide detective, who investigated in the city of Bergen, ten years earlier, these same serial-killer crimes. James D'Arcy is the grieving husband. David Dencik plays a sleaze doctor. Jonas Karlsson is Gainsbourg's latest boyfriend, whom we never fully know. In fact, all the characters are sketchy figures. The jigsaw puzzle murder case is finally put together in the climax, but by that time many viewers might have become too bored to care.

What is unforgettable is the chilling opening scene
involving an abusive man, a child with special needs and his anguished mother. It's a great table-setting scene for a film that somehow never got back on track.

Even the director fessed up in an interview when he
told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation "something went wrong, there were too many plot holes."

REVIEWED ON 2/21/2018       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"