Despite striking visuals and Josh Brolin’s all-in performance, the new “Oldboy” fails to build a riveting, believable mystery strong enough to support its big twist.
In the Spike Lee film, Brolin stars as Joe Doucett, a deplorable advertising executive who has all the time in the world to drown himself in alcohol, but none to spend with his daughter. During one particularly drunken night, Joe is snatched off the street and wakes up trapped in a small room. After 20 years of solitary confinement and dumplings, Joe is suddenly released and challenged to figure out who ordered his lengthy prison sentence and why.
If you’ve seen the Chan-wook Park original, it’s impossible to experience this new version objectively, but Lee’s rendition does deserve a standalone assessment first.
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A horror movie can be a fun, campy scare. It can be a deeply disturbing scare. But it’s when you find that happy medium between the two that you end up with something that’s absolutely horrifying in the best way possible. Something you’re eager to think about well after the credits roll because it’s fun that it gives you the creeps.
Ellison (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime novelist who hit it big with a book called “Kentucky Bloody,” earning him a legion of fans and making him a household name. Trouble is, he hasn’t had a hit since. Desperate to keep himself from being a one hit wonder, Ellison drags his wife (Juliet Rylance) and two kids around the country trying to find a grizzly crime to make the focus of his next book.
Somewhat fed up after Ellison’s last failed attempt his wife agrees to move to a neighborhood in Pennsylvania where a family was brutally murdered, having been hung from a tree in their own backyard. Little does she know, Ellison didn’t just opt to move to a home in the area or even down the block; Ellison bought the house where the murders took place. Shortly after moving in, Ellison comes across a box in the attic containing five reels of film as well as a projector. To his horror and delight, he discovers that the films aren’t just memories left behind by a previous owner, rather the killer’s documentation of not only the infamous hangings, but four other brutal family murders, too. Ellison is sure he’s hit the jackpot and that this will in fact lead to his next big book, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that that happens, even if it means putting himself and his family at risk.
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