Contemporary Asian cinema has a great advantage because its authors have what Hollywood producers and screenwriters really lack – ideas and originality. One of South Korea’s most respected directors, Chan-wook Park, made a film in 2003 that became one of the most popular films of the year and rightly drew the attention of audiences and critics to this attractive, interesting and productive cinematography. “Oldboy” from 2003 has become a kind of standard for a great and tense drama-mystery that holds attention throughout its course and numerous twists and turns to create an extremely positive impression of it.
As it usually happens, the Hollywood production decided to do a remake of this film, with more or less insignificant changes in the plot. Josh Brolin, an alcoholic and irresponsible father, is imprisoned for twenty long years in a hotel room, without any contact with the outside world, except in the form of television, which he watches every day. He realizes on television that he is accused of killing his wife, while his daughter grew up with an adoptive parent and got a great motive for fleeing. His escape plans are ruined by the fact that his jailers release him on their own, and Joe must find the person and the reasons why he was imprisoned for so long within five days, otherwise, in addition to his own, he will jeopardize his own daughter’s life.
This film, like any remake, is impossible to watch without drawing a parallel with the original project. Compared to the original, this remake, in almost every sense, leaves the impression that some films simply should never be made and that the Hollywood treatment of esteemed non-Hollywood films almost as a rule results in disappointment. From an extremely stylized, suspenseful thriller with in-depth action, a great soundtrack and a very good characterization of vivid and emotional characters, director Spike Lee and screenwriter Mark Protosevich provide viewers of the remake with a quick one-and-a-half-hour “fun” dub without any emotion. , thriller and meaning.
The plot of the film is so fast that the viewer simply does not have time to identify with any of the characters, not even with the main character. The stories that hold the plot are rather poorly connected, the sequences are fast-paced, some scenes that had to be much better worked out are simply not, while the tension of certain situations is almost completely ruined by the need for haste. I got the impression that the authors simply had to charge everything in exactly 104 minutes as long as the film lasts, I have no other reason for so much acceleration of everything.
Precisely because of all that speed, there was no room to achieve any effect of constant mystery or drama. The action is quite forced and does not have that hint of intelligent and tense fights, someone exclusively shoots at the shock effect. Confirmation of a bad script is also a bad characterization of the characters. The main character is antipathetic, he was simply not created for the viewer to get along with him, and in some scenes he represents a person who irritates everyone around him. Little attention is paid to his family and the character of Mary who helps him (Elizabeth Olsen), which is definitely a minus.
What is certainly most irritating while watching is the rather large number of scenes in which the use of the iPhone is insisted on, so one critic stated that the whole film is one big advertisement for Apple. The name of the restaurant, the location of the restaurant, the music played during the call, numerous messages and calls and their deletion are displayed all the time with the Apple Apple on the gadget. The fact is that in 2013, anything was impossible without modern technology, but it is precisely its constant use that spoils the impression and entertainment of the film itself.
As for acting, it is not at a high level. A large number of actors and actresses turned down roles in this film, probably thinking that it would be a step lower in their careers. Josh Brolin has a problem that he is not constant, he played some scenes, while in some he visibly did not enter his whole self, but the general assessment for his performance can be temporary. Elizabeth Olsen is unconvincing, while the appearance of the great Samuel L. Jackson does not even raise the quality of the film one step higher, as his appearance otherwise does.
In conclusion, I would like to state that you can enjoy this film only if you have not watched the original. If you haven’t, forget about this remake, find and watch a South Korean masterpiece that presents a great story of revenge. South Korean “Oldboy” is an ideal combination of art and violence, extremes and emotions, mystery and drama, while Hollywood “Oldboy” is not even close.