When I first heard the announcement of an Oldboy remake I was angry! For flip sake - why would you even remake a film that is not old enough or so poor in its original state that it could do with a stone cold remix? Already having refused to watch the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I have no idea why this film managed to lull me to its presence, but it did and then...
I had to eat humble pie and throw my preconceptions into a volcano as this version is surprisingly good and different enough in its interpretation. It becomes apparent early on in the movie that you are not about to watch a verbatim account of the original in English. First of all the direction very much makes this a Spike Lee joint and Mr. Lee exercises a subtle brush stroke on his canvas, never over directing the storytelling in a bid to out do Park Chan-Wook's original.
Josh Brolin as the caged one gives an interesting performance as Joe Doucett, an advertising executive who has the gift of negotiation...that is until he gets in his own way and demotes his wins to a pyrrhic victory. Joe an egotistical man, a bully, a useless husband (which has lead him to becoming an ex one) and an absentee father, leaves us with no initial sympathy for such a man, he's a villain!
"The final revelation is still a gut-wrenching expose, though admittedly Brolin's reaction didn’t quite hit all the right notes for me."
But interestingly after 20 years of being mysteriously imprisoned, you will care why Doucett has been incarcerated and truly root for him as he embarks on following the carefully laid signposts, set out in the world to re-educate him about his sins of the past. He has no choice but to follow the dots and if he can't work things out beyond his taste buds (in joke), his new/old friends and new tech (the internet) will help him out in exposing clues to the mystery of who imprisoned him and ultimately why this personal vendetta took place.
The final revelation is still a gut-wrenching expose, though admittedly Brolin's reaction didn’t quite hit all the right notes for me. Brolin’s character is supposed to implode, but in such a way that all can see his destruction happening right in front of us, which I know is easier to say than to do. But here Josh breaks down and plummets in a way that isn't convincing for me, I feel his reaction should have been more deranged or unhinged but at least, the final punishment he inflicts on himself seems credible to the character's new way of looking at things and also serves as a major difference to the original film if I am remembering correctly.
Sharlto Copley's performance annoyed me at first, but in taking a second look at the family he comes from (narrative wise), perhaps a personality like his might be a true take on a man that has experienced what he has. As for Samuel L. Jackson, he is not here for a cameo, he plays a bad mofo with no redeemable qualities whatsoever, a facilitator of a service that is bizarre and injust, who's presence gets much more exposure in this version and dramatically adds to the story.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but the film is good and once people watch it and accept it on its own merits, it may become a sleeper DVD/rental hit.
The fight scene with the jocks – hell yeah!