No, no, no, no, no! This is even worse than I feared. Not only is this OBVIOUSLY terrible, it’s also HILARIOUSLY terrible. What a blow.
Oldboy tells the story of a man who is imprisoned for years – he doesn’t know who by, why or where. What’s perhaps stranger though, is that one, without warning or explanation, he is released. He sets about trying to unravel the mystery, and even though it’s Josh Brolin (who I really like), I kind of don’t care.
With such stupendously awesome source material, they should’ve been able to create a passable offering. But, no. This is really, really bad. In fact, it’s actually so bad it’s funny. Key elements of the plot have been changed, to the point where I’m not sure it even makes sense. While the original was startling, overwhelming and shocking, this version feels contrived and empty, devoid of any kind of, of…guts! Even the violence, and there are indeed some very violent scenes, fails to move. The brutality is somehow sterile. It’s a classic case of style over substance, but without the style. There’s a scene where Brolin takes on about a dozen attackers, cracking people on the head with a hammer, that almost had me in hysterics. I don’t think that was director, Spike Lee’s, intention.
As for the performances, Josh Brolin looks embarrassed and Sharlto Copley is more comical than menacing. Thankfully Elizabeth Olsen is actually quite good.
I’m not sure what the point of this remake is, other than to cash in on the success of the original be appealing to audiences who won’t watch films with subtitles, even when they’re far superior. Sometimes English language remakes work (did anyone not love The Departed?), but this one really doesn’t.
I can’t stress strongly enough how much I dislike this film. The Korean Oldboy is visceral, gut-wrenching, engaging and gritty. I might even go so far as to call it a masterpiece (a word I don’t use lightly). This one is not. It is utterly superfluous, soulless, and I wish I hadn’t watched it. In time, maybe I’ll forget.
Do yourself a favour and watch this instead