Oldboy remake (2013): Film review - sympathy for Spike Lee's Mr Vengeance
(18) Spike Lee, 105 mins Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley
Spike Lee's remake of the cult South Korean thriller opens like a baroque version of Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend. Josh Brolin is Joe Doucett, a divorced alcoholic on a self-destructive rampage round a modern American city.
It's 1993. He's a salesman with a deal to close but his obnoxious, drunken behaviour lands him in the gutter. It's at this point he is imprisoned in a cell made up to look like a motel room and framed for murdering his ex-wife. Twenty years later, he's released and ready for revenge against his unknown tormentor.
To complain that Lee's version of Oldboy is preposterous is to miss the point. The film is intended to be lurid, bloody and as wildly over-determined as the most far-fetched Oedipal tragedy. Some of the performances (notably Sharlto Copley's camp, sneering villain) are so hammy that they invoke memories of Vincent Price in low-grade B shockers.
Accept the excesses, though, and the film has a lot going for it. Lee seems inspired as much by Hitchcock's Vertigo as by Park Chan-wook's original movie. Helped by a Bernard Herrmann-like score from Roque Baños and by Sean Bobbitt's atmospheric cinematography, he successfully gives the film a delirious, dream-like quality. Brolin, a jowly, physically imposing actor, tackles his role with utter conviction, giving the film a gravitas it would otherwise have lacked.
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Now diplomacy has failed, boycotting Israel might be the only way we can protect the people of Gaza
Game of Thrones actress begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
The Walking Dead season 5 will see deaths of 'favourite characters', hints Andrew Lincoln
Palestinian artists transform smoke-filled Gaza into symbol of resistance
Star Wars 7: Plot details 'leak', with sequel's opening sequence and premise revealed
Big Bang Theory: Filming delayed by contract disputes over actors' pay
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >