OLDBOY is a provocative, visceral thriller that follows the story of an advertising executive (Josh Brolin) who is abruptly kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his bizarre and torturous punishment onl...more
OLDBOY is a provocative, visceral thriller that follows the story of an advertising executive (Josh Brolin) who is abruptly kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his bizarre and torturous punishment only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment. less
Oldboy is a remake of the 2003 South-Korean revenge knockout. If you haven’t seen the original, you have deprived yourself of one of the most shocking twists in cinematic history. I would not only advise you to watch it but also to stick to it.
Oldboy is about a man who gets imprisoned in a hotel room for 20 years. Why? Who is doing this to him? These questions reveal answers that grab you by the throat. The plot is the same but it isn’t an exact remake. Exact or not, it fails either way as a film. It doesn’t add anything to the original nor does it make it accessible to new viewers.
One of the many miscalculations begins with the casting. Josh Brolin is not the most appealing actor around but can do wonders when given the correct material, like Milk (2008). Elizabeth Olsen is untapped potential waiting to be excavated. Neither is this the correct material for Brolin, nor does it excavate Olsen’s talent. The gamble of the film is Sharlto Copley. I loved him in District 9 (2009) and the A-Team (2010) but Elysium earlier this year and Oldboy misplace his strengths. His accent is unintentionally funny and he rarely seems menacing. The only piece of casting that works is Samuel L. Jackson who rarely does anything wrong.
The most glaring misstep is the execution, which is clumsy at best. It tries to be slick and edgy but ends up looking soulless and incredibly uninspired. The original was directed by Chan-Wook Park while Spike Lee, the most overrated filmmaker in modern Hollywood, directs this film. I’m not a lover of his work; even his better ones don’t quite pique my interest. His lack of originality is again at play in (ironically) a remake. He calls his films a “joint” for crying out loud and concentrates on dissing filmmakers than making actual films. India has already seen a remake of this film by our very own hack Sanjay Gupta. If there is sugar lying open, ants are bound to get attracted to it.
In the scripting, the fundamental error is committed when the motivation of the villain and the backstory is changed. The original film's final hour is shocking because all of the details that come together. Fiddling with it defeats the purpose entirely. Something that the Indian rehash also did.
The one thing that I took from this movie is the score by Roque Baños. It was always above and one step ahead of the film. If only the visuals were synched to the mood of the music.
I must add that I do prefer the hopeful ending of this film but I can’t pick it over the original because it’s still a missed opportunity. The original ending was compelling and challenging. It almost threw you off a mental cliff. This ending tries to do the opposite; it tries to save you from slipping but doesn’t exactly bring you back up. I wouldn’t say Spike Lee’s Oldboy is unwatchable but it is certainly unnecessary. A joint that should have been shut down before it opened.