I’m not sure that I’m qualified to review this movie. Why? Well it’s certainly not because it’s so good that words cannot do it justice. It’s also not because it’s the biggest steaming pile of… film you’ve ever seen. No. I’m not qualified to review this, simply because it is a remake of a well-loved and critically acclaimed movie that came out 10 years ago, and I only saw that movie once, half asleep, in the bachelor pad of a man who is now married with a kid and pays my bills.
I vaguely remember the basic premise, and wasn’t entirely clued up on the entire mystery when going into see this film, and so I have to admit I am not qualified to do a straight up comparison to the original. This, however, does afford me an opportunity to watch this film with fresh eyes, probably more akin to how you’re typical non-geek, non-Tarantino-esque film buff might view it. And so on that note, let me begin.
Old Boy revolves around a drunken father who finds himself in a strange apartment with no way of escape. Trapped for 20 years in a prison, he is finally released and begins to search for his jailer and his long lost daughter.
Technically this film is fairly solid and contained some gorgeous cinematography. Lee’s use of light was beautiful and I enjoyed the quirks of his camera – a standout example to me being the scene in which Brolin’s character walks the streets in a drunken stupor. Typically I’m not a fan of “attached cameras”, but this sequence proved to be extremely effective. Another technical stand out was the one long fight scene – if you’ve watched the movie you know exactly the scene I’m talking about. Brolin takes on what seems like an unending line-up of assailants and hands their asses back to them in a one-take wonder that will make you cringe every few seconds and will leave you breathless.
Moving swiftly onto the narrative and the performances, I will say that I did find the central mystery compelling – not hugely compelling, but compelling none-the-less. Having watched the original years ago and remembering a fair number of the plot points I was still interested to see where this went and what was our antagonist’s motivation for setting up Brolin with a life of hell. The films climaxing revelations as well as the major twist are just as sick as they were first time around.
The performances are all fairly standard, and perhaps even a little flat. Brolin is fine, but he doesn’t have a lot of life in him, and Olsen is probably the most engaging. Sharlto Copley’s villain, although being fairly creepy, is never going to be a villain you talk about for more than an hour after seeing the film.
I have one question to pose as I close off this review of what feels like a very ordinary and unexceptional movie – Does Samuel L Jackson improvise all his lines containing the words “mother f#*&er”, or does he somehow manage to find a boat-load of screenplays that all contain these two words and convince people that he needs that role? I’m not complaining. I love Samuel L Jackson. He was my favourite thing in this movie, besides that fight of course. Go and YouTube it.