Oldboy (2013)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
I called it.

[I tried to avoid spoilers, and I don’t specifically say plot points, but I could spoil you by association. Basically, don’t read this until after you see it. Otherwise…enjoy my rant]

Boys and girls, let me tell you about a film experience I recently had. It’s about a little film called Oldboy. They say this is a remake, and it’s made some buzz, yet hasn’t received the best ratings all around. Well, let me first start off by explaining I haven’t seen the remake, didn’t know anything about the story, or what was so buzz-worthy about it before seeing it. I do now, but I had one problem. I may be the only one, but I called what happens in the end in the first 10-15 minutes. I had a wild, nut ball theory that turned out to be 110% right. I am really angry at myself for being so perceptive, because otherwise, I would have loved the movie, and now I can’t help but think Oldboy is really, really predictable. It may just be me, like I said, but I wish I never made that theory because it was in the back of my mind the entire time, and it added up with every single scene…man!

The film itself is about this alcoholic deadbeat father by the name of Joe Doucett that very early on in the film gets abducted and stays imprisoned for twenty years. Throughout this time, he is fed and had a TV to keep him company. Before long, he watched enough martial art films and workout videos so that when he was released, he vowed to be a good father for his daughter while taking revenge on those who held him captive. One problem, they killed his ex-wife and pinned it on him. Once he got out, that’s when the action really starts…

Heeyyooo, that’s what I would have said if I didn’t actually figure out the entire plot within the first 10-15 minutes. I’m telling you, I was wishing really hard that I was wrong, because I was digging the film from beginning to end. I mean, I was thinking out loud that they should keep remaking Korean films in America and have Josh Brolin play the lead, because I love watching this guy tear people apart. It was intense, but they had to go and ruin everything by making it predictable…at least to me. I won’t spoil you, though.

I will tell you two places where this film could have gone perfectly. First, they could have made the film in its entirety take place in that prison room. There was some really good, chilling, and thought-provoking originality there that could have been expanded on. I mean, 30 minutes for 20 years? Think about Cast Away, Tom Hanks stayed on that island for only four years, and you know it had amazing story progression, character development, and tension that never let up. Let me remind you – TWENTY years, and they pass that by in thirty minutes so they can get to the action. I do like the action, but there was so much more they could have done if they just kept him prisoner.

Secondly, another thing that could have made this film nearly perfect is not bringing Sharlto Copley in to make Joe play his little mind game. That’s when it got unbelievable. I love Copley’s work, I really love his work, but I wasn’t digging him here. I mean, that English accent…man, stick to South African. It’s not only that, but his whole character is cartoony and over the top. It’s like he stepped right out of The Hunger Games.  His entire presence in this film is literally pissing me off. There are things that I really liked about the plot that this film had, and I understand where they wanted to take the film, but I’m not so fond of the methods they took to take us there. Ultimately, it just made me mad, and not the kind of mad they wanted the audience to feel. Mad at the obvious disregard to blatant promise.

(*Exhale* you have got to love it when you get really passionate about a review.)

Anyways, it’s hard to say how I would feel about the film had I not figured it out so early on because I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that I figured it out and I’m disappointed they didn’t try to cover their tracks in case people like me figure out their big reveal. I can guess all I want about how this film would have affected me, but I’d just be grasping at straws, that is how big of an anti-affect this film had on me in the end. When I watch a movie, I see a number in my head for what I’ll eventually rate it, and that number fluctuates. In the beginning I wasn’t really sure, but once he was kidnapped, and everything that happened in that room, it was a solid 97% then he got out and was beating people up, still cool, maybe 94%, and then Copley steps in and does his little cartoony dance…80%, my prediction turns out to be right, 74%.

It’s not the reveal specifically that made me mad, I applaud the choice, I’m just upset at the direction and methods they used to get to that point. If the same applied to The Sixth Sense, for example, I don’t think I would have loved it so much. I might even be in the same boat because my experience was entirely ruined. Movie experience is everything, and that’s why I try to stay away from movie news. All this stuff about which actor will be in what movie. Even the news that the sequel to Man of Steel would have Batman. How amazing would it have been if you just went to the movie and all of a sudden Batman is a main character? I just made you have a theoretically better movie-viewing experience, didn’t I? Too bad none of us get to have that experience. It’s now ruined. If enough things are ruined in a movie, the entire film is bad. I figured out the big thing in Oldboy, and suddenly I’m pissed.

The Good:

The premise to Oldboy is incredible and the action is to die for. Josh Brolin should remake every Korean movie ever made just because.

The Bad:

For me, it was just really, really, really predictable and that predictable quality ruined the whole film for me, especially when I found out my prediction turned out to be 110% correct.

Memorable Quote:

Adrian: Are you looking?

2 thoughts on “Oldboy (2013)

  1. Good review Dave. To be honest, we didn’t need an Oldboy remake, but since we have one, I can’t say that I’m too upset because it’s a bit better than it had any right to be.


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