Oldboy

"Good"

Oldboy Review


Moviegoers who know nothing about the iconic 2003 Korean thriller will perhaps enjoy this half-hearted remake. It lacks the subtlety and irony of Park Chan-wook's deranged masterpiece, but Spike Lee brings a certain technical sleekness that holds our interest. Especially as the complex plot begins to twist and turn, gleefully pulling the rug out from under us.

It centres on Joe (Brolin), a drunken loser who blows his last chance at his job by coming on to a client's wife. The next morning he wakes up in a sleazy hotel room that turns out to be a locked cell where he'll be held for the next 20 years. He's shown news updates on how he's the prime suspect in his wife's violent murder, and he watches his daughter grow up in an adoptive family's home. Suddenly focussed on revenge, he plots his escape and then is caught off guard when he's inexplicably released. With the help of his old friend Chucky (Imperioli) and helpful nurse Marie (Olsen), Joe tracks down his flamboyant jailer (Jackson) and then the creepy man (Copley) who paid the bills and now demands that Joe understands why he did it.

Yes, the plot is a big puzzle, and watching the various pieces fall into place keeps us riveted to the screen, even if nothing is particularly involving. Lee's mistake is to play everything dead straight, with only the odd hint of black humour or underlying madness. Instead, we get bigger action fight scenes (cool but choreographed) and a variety of surprises and revelations that often make us gasp. And all of this is played with razor-sharp intensity by Brolin, who gives us just enough emotion to keep us engaged with his journey.

Olsen is also a sympathetic character, if rather undefined, but Jackson and Copley play their roles with scene-stealing relish that adds just a touch of the warped humour this kind of film so badly needs. Essentially, this is a riotous fable about how vengeance is so consuming that we're willing to do anything to achieve it, including losing ourselves in the process. But telling a complex story like this requires a certain crazed genius, an ability to see the absurdity and horror as well as the everyday emotion. And this movie just feels ordinary.

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Oldboy

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 120 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st November 2003

Box Office USA: $0.6M

Distributed by: Tartan Films

Production compaines: 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, Vertigo Entertainment, Good Universe, OB Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 107 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 8.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Roy Lee

Starring: as Joe Doucett, as Marie Sebastian, Samuel L. Jackson as Chaney, as Adrian Pryce, as Daniel Newcombe, as Chucky, as James Prestley, as Bernie Sharkey, Ilfenesh Hadera as Judy, as Young Joe, as Browning, as Dr. Tom Melby, as Edwina Burke, as Stephanie Lee

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