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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Movie Review - Oldboy

Oldboy (2013)
Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Michael Imperioli, and Samuel L. Jackson
A Spike Lee Joint
***This film is currently steaming on Netflix**

Maybe it's just because I haven't seen the original, but I don't quite understand what all the uproar was about when Spike Lee's remake of the Japanese film Oldboy came out last year.  To me, Lee has produced a slick, exciting, well shot (though somewhat ludicrous plot-wise) revenge film that moves along at a rather rapid pace.  I found the piece quite effective in mood and tone with a strong leading performance by Josh Brolin.

It's 1993 and Joe Doucett (Brolin) is a sleazy alcoholic advertising executive who fails to give his wife and daughter child support on a recurring basis.  One evening, after a failed meeting with a client, Joe gets himself drunk to a point of unconsciousness while walking along the city streets.  When he awakens, he finds himself in a hotel room from which he cannot escape.  While imprisoned, he sees on tv that his wife has been murdered and that he is the prime suspect.  Despite his pleas, his captors never reveal their faces and keep him locked in the room for twenty years at which point he is inexplicably released back into the world.  His ordeal, however, is not over.  Once out, Joe receives a phone call from a mysterious man who tells him that he has three days to figure out why he was imprisoned or else his (now twenty-something) daughter will be killed.

Ultimately, Oldboy is saved by both Spike Lee's unique and refreshing swift direction and Brolin's compelling performance as a man who, despite his slimeball personality before, never deserved to be put into the horrifying predicament he was placed.  Beyond those two things, the plot of Oldboy revels in lunacy.  I won't even get into Sharlto Copley's over-the-top B-movie level villain and the absolutely insane reason behind imprisoning Joe for twenty years.  It's laughably bad -- and surprisingly uncomfortable to watch play out.  However, despite this pretty major plot point issue (and a few other rather disturbing storylines that I won't delve into for fear of ruining the film for you), I still found Oldboy to be a unique piece of American cinema that pleasantly surprised me.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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