Title: Oldboy (2013)
Director: Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing)
Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson
Plot: Locked up for 20 years in a single room, ex-marketing guru Joe Doucett (Brolin) is released and sets about discovering who imprisoned him and who has framed him for the murder of his ex-wife all the while trying to find his daughter who he has not seen since she was 3 years old.
“Heaven make me free of it. The rest is silence”
Review by Eddie on 12/05/2014
Coming out 10 years after the now revered 2003 Korean classic by Park Chan-Wook, Spike Lee’s Hollywood remake of Oldboy was met with much critical disdain and equally lacklustre box office performance upon release that we should now on-paper call this venture an out and out failure that failed to find an audience or do anything of significance that made it stand alone on its own merits. Yet, while not reaching the heights of the unique original, Spike Lee’s film is actually a very solid attempt at translating the original film and features enough visceral scenes of violence that it will linger in the memory without striking an emotional punch.
With a strong cast led by the baulking Josh Brolin and the ever impressive Elizabeth Olsen, hype for this Oldboy remake built up and in that respect the actors do deliver on the promise their names gave the picture. Brolin is a strong central figure in the mystery and violence of the film and his transformation from drunk arrogant businessman to focussed-on-revenge one-man-army is believable, while Olsen is equally solid as the caring stranger Marie Sebastian. Others in the film bring the piece down with particular mention needing to be made of both Samuel L Jackson as a ludicrous villain (complete with bad hair and dress sense) and in even more ludicrous form Sharlto Copley as the mysterious “invisible man”. Copley completely hams his role up and needed much more control from Lee to stop him going so overboard with a role that would of worked out much better as a straight up take, but then again the feel of Oldboy as was with the original is one of an almost fanciful nature.
There might not be any sea creature eating this time around but Lee’s version of the warped tale still features a hammer heavy fight, a nice cooked ‘mousey” meal and a chilling one take sweep of a household tragedy that makes the movie at times chilling and at times creepily compelling. It’s in these moments that the films mysterious centre comes out to shine and there is no denying that at the core of this blood filled tale is a story that works on many levels and would take a complete butchering to ruin.
The wow factor of Spike Lee’s Oldboy will be dimmed for those that have seen and loved the original but overall this is still a fine incarnation of the story that works on levels many films fail to reach. A bitingly funny, blood curdling violent and deeply disturbing tale, Oldboy is undeserving of its bad wrap and worth seeking out especially for those yet to experience the originals wild charms and for Lee personally its one mighty step up from the dribble that was Miracle at St. Anna.
3 and a half dumplings out of 5