OLDBOY (2013)


Directed By: Spike Lee
Written By: Mark Protosevich
Based On The Manga By: Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi
Cinematography By: Sean Bobbitt
Editor: Barry Alexander Brown 

Cast: Josh Brolin, Sharito Copley, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, James Ransone, Michael Imperiolli, Pom Klementieff, Max Casella, Lance Reddick, Ricahrd Partnow, Hannah Simone

An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.

If you have seen the original Japanese film. You most likely will not like this film as it pales in comparison and differs on certain points and scenes. Instead of a practical remake that isn’t that different like LET ME IN. This film also feels smaller and simpler than the original. This film really didn’t need to be made or attempted. Though as usual Hollywood feels a need to remake any noteworthy foreign film.

What I can say for this film is that it is certainly stylish with brutal violence and Sharito Copley’s performance. It feels more like a gritty comic book then action thriller. Though his performance goes into overacting that makes his character not even seem like a human being or at least a realistic one.

I see this film more as an exercise In style for cast and crew. It also might be more homage to the source material of the graphic novel, rather then the film.

Josh Brolin has the look, size and attitude of a kick-ass action star, but he also looks like more of a villain then hero. Which works here as in this film. Though cruel his fate feels more deserved hen just a happy accident.

Elizabeth Olsen really has no reason to be in this film. Other then that the script demands it as she is key to the films twisted plot.

There is some inspired production design that is eye catching.

The film plays by the rules of an action thriller. While trying to be deeper than the average one. Yet comes out with a grit, but feels empty like a projection without any depth.

Sharito Copley for up to now his performances have been acclaimed, but usually that’s exactly what they are performances of characters with twisted details hat are eye catching. But never around the characters in reality always feels like he is overacting and plays with ideas he has for his character rather then play the reality of him. Leaving is with a performance of details, but not a character.

While I can say it never reaches the heights of the original film. It’s an interesting experiment that tries and succeeds only sometimes. As it fails quite a bit.

Michael Imperiolli’s character also feels that way and so Josh Brolin can have an initial ally.

The cast is small that makes the story feel more intimate. Which is my guess for the more interior scenes of the films. Though while Brolin’s or at fight scene is impressive and shows off his new skills. It feels cruel, indulgent and over the top and another reason for maybe why he deserves or deserved his imprisonment.

The ending while it makes sense isn’t as mystical and as crazy as he original. It also exchanges one supreme punishment for another.

Steven Spielberg was originally attached to direct with Will Smith starring.

The female lead was offered to Rooney Mara and Mia Wasikowska but both declined.

Will Smith and Daniel Craig were offered the lead role but turned it down.

Christian Bale, Colin Firth, and Clive Owen were offered the role of Adrian, but they declined.

While seeking his revenge. It also seems to hint at other perversions for his character. Who I am guessing is basing his performance more on awkward billionaire is who can’t used to the public so much and love more in seclusion.

It’s a shame as Josh Brolin has been solid in this an Jonah Hex as some anti-hero hero, yet each chance the films bomb die to bad word of mouth and sure yes film quality has a bit to do with it.

I have to admit though ultimately disappointing. I had fun with this film and spike lee’s interpretation of the material. The hallway fight scene was done in one take, but it was edited for the final cut.

This film already had a challenge of trying to make the story plausible.

Josh Brolin is just made into killing machine. Not as stylistic not as well thought out killing implausibly and no one notices. It’s like he became a superhero in his captivity. We know he trained and worked out, but now he is just a unstoppable killing machine.

Cinqué Lee, Spike Lee’s brother, plays the Bellhop pictured on the wall in the prison room and appears as a hallucination. This may be an in-joke to the Jim Jarmusch film Mystery Train , where he also played a Bellhop. Spike Lee and Jarmusch are good friends and are former film students at NYU; Jarmusch also directed Lee siblings in Coffee and Cigarettes II

The action scenes felt generic and gleeful, not direct and special. Though the film has it’s own strengths at times. They are usually stylistic. Though not as powerful nor as memorable as the original.

The ending tries to outmatch the original. Soon as he leaves imprisonment film goes downhill as far as believeability and dramatics. –The film also has the worst, most unbelievable death scene I have ever seen in a professional film.

Elizabeth Olsen did not know the ending of the film until she watched it for the first time at the New York premiere. “I’ve never been more shocked and surprised by an ending since maybe like The Sixth Sense,” said Olsen. “No one spoiled it for me. No one hinted at it for me. And I got to experience it with just a blank canvas.”

By far the most disturbing aspect of the film is how it just dispatches and kills off innocents and making it feel like it’s ok, just regular business. Now if shown for instance when he is fighting the guys on the hockey field how powerful ad dangerous his skills an him have become. I can understand that, but it also should have shown that at times he has I watch how much force he imparts onto enemies. Which is fine for someone who is more his enemy and trying to kill him, bit for some guys trying to stop him to protect someone else it seems mean and barbaric. Though I guess is done to show he is unstoppable in his vengeance and blood let. Yet no one especially cops seems to notice.

Spike Lee said that his version was 140 minute long (mostly character build-ups and interactions), but the studio heavily edited his film to 105 minutes. Josh Brolin prefers Spike Lee’s version. Though since the film bombed I doubt it will ever see the light of day unless it builds a cult audience.


Original storyline changed, but feels more odd to be odd and to try and top original film ending. This one feels like trying to create an a’ha moment but is bizzare and makes little sense. As the villains motives which could have been developed better as the film seems to any many times make no real sense. Just there to be there and when t is explained still confuses you.

End spoiler

It’s a film that needs to be seen to be believed. Though feel free to skip it.

Grade: C

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