Film: Snowpiercer

"Know your place. Keep your place!"
"Revolutions are the locomotives of history."

Snowpiercer is a post-apocalyptic Science Fiction film directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, director of Mother, The Host, and Memories of Murder, and is based on the French comic of the same name. It stars Chris Evans, Song Kang-Ho, Ko Ah-Sung, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, and Jamie Bell, among others.

In 2014, an acceleration of global warming prompts a desperate attempt to counteract it, the method of choice being the dispensing of chemical CW-7 into the skies to cool the atmosphere. Working all too well, the attempt sends temperatures crashing, enveloping the planet in ice and killing nearly everyone on Earth. 17 years later, in 2031, the only pocket of surviving humans is aboard the Snowpiercer, a massive train which circles around the globe, running on perpetual motion.

With social class determined by ticket, the starved and crammed tail of the train soon begins to talk of another rebellion, tired of living on nutrient gel and recycled water whilst the rich purportedly live in luxury and comfort. Ignoring commands to know their place, the poor take back the end cars through leader Curtis (Chris Evans), heading on to rescue former security specialist Namgoong (Song Kang-Ho) in order to take the train for themselves.

It was scheduled to be released in Korea on August 1st 2013, but was released a day earlier thanks to the great amount of interest in the film. About $40,000,000 was placed into the production of the film, making it the most expensive Korean film to date.

This film provides examples of:

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  • Adaptation Distillation: Based on the French graphic novel "Le Transperceneige".
  • Affably Evil: Wilford is an entrepreneur and gentleman, driven by a Totalitarian Utilitarian vision of society.
  • After the End: The story picks up 17 years after the CW-7 chemical compound turned Earth into an ice globe.
  • All for Nothing: By the end of the film, the train has crashed and Yona and Timmy - a seventeen-year-old girl and a five-year-old child - may well be the only survivors, left alone with no supplies and no survival skills out in the frozen wasteland. On the plus side, the world is not as dead as we had been lead to believe.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Whether or not anyone besides Yona and Timmy survived the train crash is up to interpretation, although it's likely that the people in the front of the train survived.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The most respected people in the tail section are missing limbs.
    • In an example of an obviously well-rehearsed punishment, Andrew's arm is frozen and then smashed off after he throws a shoe at the woman in yellow.
    • The maimed elders come forward to take charge of Andrew after his punishment. The elders are not necessarily victims of brutal front-end justice - many of them cut off their own arms and legs to feed the starving people during the early desperate days of the train.
  • An Axe to Grind: Since the guards at the tail don't have any more bullets, the men who await the rebels before the water supply car are armed with axes and spears.
  • Anyone Can Die: Characters are "spent" continuously in this film.
  • Apocalypse How: Planetary/Species Extinction. Global warming was involved. Ultimately subverted, when we see that some life still exists outside the train.
  • Arc Words: "Everyone has their preordained position."
  • Assimilation Academy: The school section brainwashes the young children within to worship Wilford and to never get out of the train, or else they'd freeze and die.
  • Avenging the Villain: Franco the Elder goes berserk in trying to take down the insurrectionists, even killing fellow front section soldiers. He's avenging his little brother, Franco the Younger, who was Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
  • Badass: Curtis, Grey, Edgar and Namgoong.
  • Badass Gay: According to Word of God, Grey was Gilliam's lover (in a May-December Romance) and is by far the best fighter the tail-enders have.
  • Bald of Evil: The man handing out the eggs played by Tómas Lemarquis (who's even credited as Egg-head).
  • The Baroness: Mason is fervently devoted to the totalitarian ideals of Wilford and enforces them with an iron fist, although she is of the particularly un-sexy kind.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The train derails, probably killing nearly everyone, including the main characters. The only hope is embodied by Yona and Timmy, as well as the proved existence of life outside the train.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Let's just say that neither the train's autocratic overlords or the violently rioting underclass are particularly nice people. Though this is sort of understandable given what a Crapsack World they live in.
  • Brick Joke: Near the beginning of the movie, Edgar talks about Steak a lot and whether Curtis can remember what it tastes like. When Curtis finally reaches Wilford, the latter is cooking himself a Steak for dinner.
  • Brainwashed: This seems to be the fate of anyone who was taken from the tail section to be employed in the front sections. Later implied to be caused by the engine itself, with Curtis almost falling victim to it.
  • Break Them by Talking: Wilford devastates Curtis by revealing that he and Gilliam had been working together for years and comes very close to convincing Curtis to become his protégé and successor. Only Yona’s revelation that Timmy is trapped under the floor operating the train prevents this from working.
    • Gilliam actually warns Curtis not to let Wilford talk, going so far as telling him he should immediately cut out Wilford’s tongue when he gets to the engine room. It’s not clear if this is because Gilliam knows the power of Wilford’s persuasion, or he doesn’t want Wilford to reveal their long running partnership.
  • Broken Pedestal: Gilliam is this to Curtis, when the latter learns the truth.
  • The Brute: Franco the Elder kills off about half the named cast, and a bunch of soldiers on his own side as well.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: The axe-men seem very confident that they can chant "Happy New Year" right before the big battle, eye to eye with their enemies.
  • Catch Phrase: Mason repeatedly uses the line, "So it is." (Translation: The way things are is the way they should be, and you can't fight the system.)
  • Chekhov's Gun: The matches, at two points in the story:
    • A little boy snatches a book of matches from Namgoong. Later he uses one of the matches to light a torch that helped the group to fight off the baddies.
    • In the final moments, Yona uses the last match to ignite the bomb that would derail the train.
    • Also the drug Kronol, which is repeatedly described as flammable throughout the movie and is later used by Namgoong to blow open the door to the outside world.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Tilda Swinton, as Mason, is stealing every minute of her screen time.
  • Children Are Innocent: Other than one bratty schoolgirl, every child in the film fall into this trope. This is a particularly disturbing trope applied to the schoolchildren, who are so innocent that they're easily brainwashed into believing Wilford and the Engine into being physical gods.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: At the climax,when all seems lost, Minsoo gives Curtis what is likely the last cigarette on Earth. He smokes it as he tells his heartwrenching backstory and breaks down sobbing.
  • City in a Bottle: All that's left of humanity lives on a mile-long train that never stops.
  • Closed Circle: Due to the outside world being completely frozen over, the entire premise is completely contained within the eponymous train. This is actually what Namgoong Minsoo wants to break free from.
  • Co-Dragons: Franco the Elder and Franco the Younger are Wildford's chief enforcers.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The revolution gets to the car with the axe wielders right in time for the new year to pass, and a big tunnel comes right after. However, this is justified later when it's revealed that the entire revolution was a plot between Wilford and Gilliam to reduce the train's population. The whole event was planned.
  • Cool Train: The eponymous mile-long train definitely qualifies, if only for the feat of running for 18 years literally nonstop through a frozen wasteland, swallowing the snow on the track and processing it into fresh water for its passengers as it goes, without anything worse than a few breakdowns from the onboard equipment during this whole time. Among its sixty cars are included (all in the front section) a greenhouse car, an aquarium car (complete with a sushi bar), a zoo car (not shown in the film), an abattoir car, a classroom car, a lounge/beauty salon car, a swimming pool car, a sauna car, a disco club car and an opium den car, all drawn by a perpetual motion engine (or so we think). Say what you want about the amorality of Wilford's utopia, you can't deny that he was one hell of an engineer.
    • And given the global temperatures, it truly is a Cool Train.
  • The Corrupter/Manipulative Bastard: Wilford, and he almost had Curtis with his smooth talk.
  • Crapsack World: The train's tail section.
  • Creator Cameo: Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette, the authors of the original comics, appear briefly as two tail-enders. Rochette's hands are also shown drawing the group shot of Curtis's party.
  • Crowd Song: The Wilford song is such a tonic.
  • Diesel Punk: There are shades of this. Beyond the thematic elements (a conflict against the unbeatable, protagonist with low social status, etc...), the front-enders style themselves very 1920s-ish. The tail-enders fill in for the grimy side of this trope.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: One member of the tail section gets his arm frozen to ice and then smashed off for throwing his shoe at (and hitting) a high ranking member.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mason's speech about everything in its place, pushing the shoe forward, is Foreshadowing of the end of the film, but it also looks like shes mimicking an Ass Shove - what the train is doing to the tail enders.
  • Dwindling Party: The hero's fellowship is killed off one by one.
  • Dystopia
  • Elite Mooks: The initial soldiers pose little to no threat their guns having no bullets and the ones who fight with batons were easily overpowered. The only major difficulty was a Giant Mook with a blunt object that Grey dealt with. Then they get to the car with the axe-wielding masked soldiers; men better trained, better armored, with deadlier weapons and the knowledge of the countryside at their disposal. That's when the rebels start taking heavy casualties.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Wilford Industries doesn't seem to discriminate when it comes to gender or sexual orientation. Even Wilford himself is bisexual.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Curtis refusing to sit down during head count at the beginning of the movie introduces us to his rebellious attitude.
  • Establishing Series Moment: Film moment, anyway. The elderly tail section passenger being forced away from his wife (who is beaten for no reason) to play violin for the pleasure of the front section passengers introduces the audience to the iron fist of the caste system.
  • Eternal Recurrence: At the end, Wilford mentioned that the tail section people's rebellions were planned by Gilliam and himself in an effort to keep the train's population under control.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Franco the Elder and his brother Franco the Younger.
    • Wilford mentions in a conversation that he misses Gilliam and that it was a shame that he had to be killed.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The only two survivors we see in the end, after the Snowpiercer's derailment, are Yona and Timmy. The rest of humanity's fate after the massive crash is left unclear.
  • Evil All Along: Gilliam was working with Wilford since the beginning.
  • Evil Teacher: One of these is introduced as an instrument of the society's Propaganda Machine, and also violently mows down several people a few minutes later.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When the bomb is about to explode, Wilford sits drinking his wine, sees Minsoo and Curtis's prepared sacrifice, and simply says "Nice."
  • Faceless Goons: The gang of thugs with their ski masks and axes. Emphasized by the fact that their masks don't have eyeholes. The cloth is thinner around the eyes, explaining how they can see, but the effect is still the same.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Groups at different levels of society are separated by train cars, with the decadent elites very close to the front and a downtrodden underclass at the very back.
  • Fantastic Drug: Kronol, the stuff that two of the protagonists as well as some of the upper class rave about in a world where even cigarettes are virtually extinct. It's also highly flammable industrial waste, which was why Minsoo wanted to collect the stuff to make a makeshift bomb.
  • Fingore: Grey is figuratively Taking the Bullet when he gets his hand pierced by a knife that was meant for Curtis.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the opening credits, when the movie title fades into black, the letter "O" lingers on-screen for a few seconds more. It is a closed loop, much like the ecosystem of the train.
    • Mason drops several throughout the course of the movie.
      • After a soldier points his rifle at Gilliam when he approaches Andrew after his punishment:
    Mason: Put that useless gun down!
    • Just before the Axe gang set upon the tail sectioners in the darkened train car:
    Mason: Precisely 74% of you will die.
    • While explaining how the aquarium works, which is later echoed in the scene in Wilford's compartment:
    Mason: This aquarium is a complete ecological system. And the number of individual units must be very closely, precisely controlled in order to maintain the proper sustainable balance. Just to hammer that last one's implications for humans home, there's a woman holding a child visible in the doorway to the greenhouse-car when she says that. Add a new "unit" like that woman did, and another "unit" has to die.
    • Others include: the matches, the measuring of the children, the hand gestures Mason makes during her first speech, the missing limbs, Paul in the kitchen talking about how he manually has to pull certain parts that have died, Curtis's scars on his forearm, Curtis asking Edgar about how much he remembers and then Edgar talking about his mom.
    • At the very beginning:
    Curtis (speaking about Edgar): He shouldn't worship me the way he does. I'm not who he thinks I am.
    Gilliam (looking away): Few of us ever are.
    • The song that the Teacher and schoolchildren sing provides dark foreshadowing of what will become of the Engine at the end.
    Teacher (singing): What happens if the Engine stops?
    Children (singing): We all freeze and die!
  • Friend or Idol Decision: In the battle between the rebels and the soldiers, Curtis either has to save his second-in-command, Edgar, or get his hands on the minister, Mason. He chooses to capture Mason at the expense of Edgar. Although to be fair by holding Mason hostage he manages to stop the fight altogether which makes this closer to The Needs of the Many.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Wilford's motivation is to engineer one of these.
  • Functional Addict: Minsoo. His addiction to Kronol doesn't hamper with his skills. Of course, it is later revealed that he hasn't actually been ingesting it.

  • God Guise: Played with. Wilford never refers to himself as a god, but the front section passengers treat him as if he's the divine savior of humanity. Given, he technically is...
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • The CW-7 chemical designed to end global warming did its job... but also started an Ice Age in the process.
    • Gilliam and Wilford's staged rebellion ends up succeeding far more than they expected. Curtis and his crew made it further into the train than they actually anticipated.
  • Guns Are Worthless: It's initially believed by Curtis and the others, thinking that Wilford's forces expended all their bullets. As it turns out, there's more ammo where those came from.
  • Heroic BSOD: Curtis has one when Gilliam is executed, and another when he realizes that his revolution was all for naught.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Most of the major characters die while trying to save one of the others. Curtis and Minsoo sacrifice themselves protecting Timmy and Yona during the crash.
  • Hook Hand: Gilliam.
  • Human Notepad: Grey has all sorts of words written all over his body, including "Surrender" and "Die!".
  • I Ate WHAT?: Curtis has one of these moments when he sees what they put into the protein bars. He wisely withholds that information from everyone else.
  • The Idealist: Minsoo, surprisingly, as he was planning on escaping from the train altogether.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Curtis abandons Edgar to capture Mason, leaving him to be killed at the hands of Franco the Younger.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Averted with the protein block's content; they're actually made of ground-up cockroaches. But played very straight in Curtis's backstory about his first months on the train.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Several tail-enders suffer from this fate at the hands of the spear-wielding thugs. During the crossing of the Yekaterina tunnel, two of them end up skewered on the same spear.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Both Curtis and Franco the Elder when shooting at each other through window glass from hundreds of feet apart inside the moving train. Franco has a red dot, but even that's improbable at that range.
  • Inertial Impalement: Franco the Younger is dramatically pierced by a spear that Yona puts in his way when he attempts to make a break for Curtis after the guards surrender.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Yona’s clairvoyant powers are never explained, though there is some suggestion that it is related to her or her father’s addiction to Kronol.
  • Innocent Bystander: When Franco the Elder searches through the sauna, a woman lazily asks him in Czech to close the door before he urges her aside with his knife, revealing Minsoo hiding behind her.
  • In Name Only: The only thing the film has in common with the comic book is the name and the setting. This doesn't make the movie bad.
  • Irony: When Namgoong lights a cigarette after being released, he sarcastically asks Curtis if he wants one, but then says he won't waste it on a prick like him. When Curtis has a Heroic BSOD near the end, Namgoong gives him a cigarette to calm him down.
  • Kill 'em All: As Curtis progresses through the train, more and more characters get brutally killed. By the end of the movie, the train derails off the mountain, leaving Yona and Timmy as the apparent sole survivors.
  • Large Ham: Mason
  • Last Request: Tanya, for Curtis to find her Timmy. He succeeds.
  • Leitmotif: The axe gang have a sinister and clanging, off-kilter background music. The music, the fact that their masks don't have eyeholes, and what they do to a fish, is meant to underscore that these guys aren't just dangerous, they're insane.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Wilford calls Curtis's revolution "a blockbuster production with a devilishly unpredictable plot". These same words could be used to describe the film itself.
  • Locomotive Level: The movie plot is basically a non-videogame version of the trope, with a dystopia set inside a train with the poorest inhabitants (living in the tail) trying to reach the locomotive.
  • Made of Iron: Played straight with Curtis and co., but subverted with the front-section passengers. None of them seem to register pain, nor are they particularly afraid of getting hurt. The first hint we see of this is with Claude, who reacts to being struck in the head by examining the spilt blood on her finger and then licking it up. Then we see others like Franco the Elder and Wilford barely even acknowledge the savage beatings they suffer. It isn't until we get to the party car that we find out that most people in the front-section are constantly high on Kronol, so they aren't Made of Iron so much as they are numbed to pain.
  • Mama Bear: Tanya insists on joining the rebellion's push to the engine because she wants to take her son Timmy back from the front-enders.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Averted. Wilford is as brilliant and charismatic as described.
  • May-December Romance: Not onscreen, but according to director Bong, Gilliam and Grey. HD stills show Gilliam's name tattooed over Grey's heart.
  • Meaningful Echo: Curtis mentioned in his backstory that he could not bring himself to cut off his arm and give it to the hungry. In the film's final moments he makes that sacrifice to free Timmy.
  • Mega Corp.: Wilford Industries - the one corporation that will rule your life.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: The battle between the tail-enders and the hooded mooks is interrupted by the announcement of the crossing of the Yekaterina Bridge, which prompts a countdown complete with "Happy New Year" wishes. Then, while the Snowpiercer lives up to his name and breaks through several snowdrifts on the track, everybody, friends and foes side by side, get down and brace for impact (Curtis even gets a wry grin from the mook next to him). When the crossing is over, the fight resumes as if nothing happened.
  • The Mole: Wilford paints Gilliam as this, as the inside man who incites periodic violent revolts in order to cull the train's population. Curtis finds it hard to believe, but evidence begins to pile up that Wilford may be telling the truth. In fact, Gilliam's conversation with Mason could've been an attempt to warn Wilford that Curtis's revolt may not have the desired effect.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Takes a turn to the light-hearted once the main characters begin to explore the front sections, and turns back to serious when the bald man and the pregnant teacher start to shoot everyone with a gun.
    • A minor one with Curtis slipping on the fish in the middle of his dramatic slow-motion charge during the battle with the ax-wielding mooks.
  • Necessarily Evil: Wilford is aware of the suffering in the end section of the train, but he believes it is the only way for the society to function as a whole.
  • The Needs of the Many: During the Yekaterina Bridge fight, Curtis is in a moral dilemma whether to save Edgar or capture Mason instead. He goes for Mason and makes her end the fighting. This saved the lives of many, but Edgar dies in the process.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The bomb used by Minsoo to open the exit door kills nearly everyone inside the engine, then the deflagration triggers an avalanche which sweeps off the track the rest of the train.
  • No Endor Holocaust: When the train slams into several ice jams the cars hop the tracks, making everyone in the car fly around. Being a train you would assume the entire train went through this event - however the aquarium car, the hair salon car and the disco car seem none the worse for wear.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Wilford invites Curtis to have steak with him (while having him held at gunpoint by his assistant Claude to ensure he doesn't do anything stupid) and proceeds to explain to him how his rebellion was staged from the beginning out of necessity.
  • No Name Given: One of the rebellion's more prominent members is a large, imposing fighter in old military gear. Despite being one of the 'point men' along with Curtis and Edgar, he remains nameless.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Minsoo throws a raver off the catwalk where he is eaten up by the irresponsibly uncovered cog machinery (Which oddly enough does nothing to slow anything on the train.)
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The early days of the tail section.
  • Not Quite Dead: Franco the Elder is a real die-hard baddie.
  • Not So Different: Wilford pulls this on Curtis. It's super-effective.
  • The Obi-Wan: Gilliam until he’s revealed to have been working with Wilford all along to manipulate the tail end to engage in pointless rebellions.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • The Asian general has such a moment when he realizes that Mason won't save his life by ordering the Faceless Goons to back off.
    • Curtis's realization that Wilford's forces do have ammo to spare.
    • Yona when she demonstrates her psychic powers to Curtis and realizes that the next car over is full of axe-wielding soldiers. The instant she feels them, she freaks out and screams at Minsoo not to open the gate. Minsoo then gets one, as she yelled at him right at the exact moment he managed to do just that.
    • Curtis and Namgoong both when they find out that, while the lights are going out and the Axe Gang are putting on night-vision goggles, there's a tunnel approaching.
    Yona: (translating for her father) He said you guys are fucked. You stupid tail sectioners. There's a tunnel right after the Yekaterina Bridge.
    Curtis: A tunnel?!
    Yona: (nods) Mm-hm. A fucking long one.
  • Opening Scroll: One that details what happened after the CW-7 was released.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Curtis killing Mason in retaliation of Gilliam's execution.
  • Perpetual Motion Machine: The engine (and a pretty cool looking one, too.)
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Quite literally: Wilfred is using children from the tail section to replace worn out engine parts.
  • Precision F-Strike: Minsoo uses this in the trailer.
  • Pregnant Badass: The teacher is full-term at the time she's introduced, and uses a submachine gun to mow down several of the tail-enders in the school car.
  • Propaganda Machine: The educational material presented in the classroom about Wilford's life is this. Very much so.
  • Ragnarok-Proofing: Subverted. No matter how good an engineer Wilford is, parts break down and finding replacements becomes virtually impossible, requiring some creative substitutions.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: The protein bars are made from ground-up cockroaches.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When the rebellion's pipe contraption is about to be exposed, Edgar starts a riot to distract the guards.
  • The Reveal: Several.
    • The protein blocks that the tail section passengers fed on were made of cockroaches.
    • Gilliam was actually cooperating with Wilford all along, and made sure that a rebellion would take place every once in a while so that the population within the tail section wouldn't go out of control. Curtis's revolution was actually a calculated population cull that would have freed up space in the tail section and allowed a better distribution of food. Wilford wasn't happy that Gilliam couldn't keep Curtis under control.
    • The two kids who were taken in the beginning of the film were taken because of their use as living parts of the engine. The engine is perpetual, but some of its parts aren't.
    • What Minsoo saw outside from the greenhouse and didn't tell Curtis when he explained him about the ice and snow starting to melt is revealed at the very end: the polar bear is the proof that all life on Earth hasn't gone extinct.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Oh God no. A very extreme case of Black and Gray Morality.
  • Psychic Powers: Yona's abilities in clairvoyance, which let her predict events beyond the doors, and which culminates in finding Timmy below the engine room.
  • Senseless Violins: Not a violin case but a trolley full of boiled eggs (and firearms).
    • Coincidentally, a violinist appears in the same scene and the shooting begins after one of his strings snaps.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The children in the classroom present a kind of creepy/funny/over-the-top aspect. They disappear completely when the shooting starts.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Wilford says "You did a man's work" to Curtis, which references the well-known Blade Runner line "You've done a man's job".
    • Gilliam shares a last name with Terry Gilliam, whose dark, surreal and absurdist films were very likely an influence on this movie.
    • CW-7 is possibly a shout out to Ice-Nine, which has basically the same effect on Earth's biosphere
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: "F*ck you."
  • Sole Survivor: Yona and Timmy, for all we know.
  • Spanner in the Works: Despite all that the heroes went through, Wilford's plan would have worked perfectly, if not for Minsoo's Kronol bomb derailing it both figuratively and literally.
  • Staged Populist Uprising: This was Wilford's plan all along.
  • Taking A Third Option: Minsoo's ultimate plan. Rather than continue the struggle between the front and the tail, he wants to get off the train.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: A train full of people is what's left of humanity and they all depend on the train never stopping in its tracks.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: Wilford runs his train on the idea of an eternal order where people in the lowest ranks have to suffer for the society to function as a whole.
  • Tranquil Fury: Franco the Elder goes on a killing spree after his brother dies, but he's stone-faced throughout.
  • Translator Microbes: Namgoong uses a translating device to communicate with the tail-enders, though for the audience the movie simply provides subtitles.
  • Tuck and Cover: When the Kronol bomb is about to detonate and the door of Wilford's lair refuses to close, Curtis and Minsoo do this together for Timmy and Yona, allowing them to survive the blast and the subsequent train wreck.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Curtis is the latest one, as it appears that there have been several revolts, engineered by Gilliam and Wilford. That is, until things get out of hand.
  • Visionary Villain: Wilford is definitely one of these.
  • The Voiceless:
    • Grey. While it's never specifically explained what keeps him from communicating beyond being a Human Notepad, he doesn't seem to be The Speechless because he does have a couple moments where he cries out in pain, meaning he's theoretically able to speak. Perhaps he's missing his tongue, for similar reasons the other passengers are missing limbs...
    • Franco the Younger is never heard speaking (although we see him screaming something inaudible at Curtis when he holds Edgar hostage) and Franco the Elder's only line (delivered in his native tongue) is: "No more bullets?".
  • We Can Rule Together / Passing the Torch: Wilford's offer to Curtis at the end of the film. At first, Curtis seems to accept... until he sees Tanya's son, Timmy, being used as a living part of the engine, at which point he beats the crap out of Wilford.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The protagonists, who have had enough of being the victims of the structural injustice established by the Visionary Villain.
  • Wham Line: "After the first month, we ate the weak."
    • "There are actually many things on board which were rumored to be extinct..." (pulls out fully-loaded guns)
  • World of Ham: Everyone on the train is a bit... unhinged after spending 17 years trapped in a metal box rocketing through the icy remains of Earth. Even the first-class passengers, who live in total luxury, seem to act perpetually insane (partially thanks to Fantastic Drug Kronol).
  • You Need to Get Laid: Wilford suggests this to Curtis to help lay off his tightness.