Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Elizabeth Olsen and Josh Brolin
OLDBOY (2013). Director: Spike Lee.

Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is a self-destructive, hard-drinking douche bag of a man who has little to do with his ex-wife and baby daughter. One night he wakes up in what seems to be a hotel room -- and spends the next twenty years there as the world goes by, "missing" such events as 9/11 and the New Orleans hurricane. He learns through the TV that his ex-wife has been raped and murdered. When Joe gets out, he makes up his mind to find out who imprisoned him and why. Oldboy is a remake of a 2003 Korean film, and while it certainly has a fascinating premise, its execution is problematic; one wishes Lee hadn't tried so hard to emulate Quentin Tarantino. At one point, Joe takes on a half dozen nasty hoods all by himself a la Captain America; such scenes as this push the film right up to the edges of camp. Once you accept that the movie has become increasingly far-fetched and even ridiculous, you can get caught up in the suspense of wondering what exactly is going on, although some viewers may not care. The movie has a twisted ending which may have fooled some people into thinking this is better than it really is, but you may be asking yourself if it really adds up to anything. Brolin [American Gangster] gives an excellent performance, and there is nice work from Samuel L Jackson [Twisted], Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Michael Imperiolo, and James Ransone [Sinister 2]  as a doctor, among others. The lead character is definitely an asshole but he probably doesn't deserve all that happens to him. There is no attempt to actually make Brolin or other characters look twenty years older; in the early scenes a 45-year-old Brolin is playing 25.

Verdict: Arresting at times, but there's less here than meets the eye. **1/2.

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