Last updated: December 5, 2013 6:02 pm

Review: Oldboy

Josh Brolin goes OTT in Spike Lee’s superfluous remake of a South Korean classic
Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen in 'Oldboy'

Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen in 'Oldboy'

It was a sad day in cinematic Hell when Spike Lee chose to remake Park Chanwook’s Oldboy. The 2003 Korean thriller was an ex-comic-book tour de force with chunks of farce and horror: a manga chutney about a man imprisoned for 20 years – by a persecutor unknown – who embarks when freed on a bloody revenge. Think of The Count of Monte Cristo. Add torture and black comedy.

Josh Brolin’s performance – his two decades in solitary turning that ground-gravel voice and pug phiz into an advanced Nick Nolte parody – starts OTT and goes onward and upward. The audience, never mind Brolin’s antagonist (played by South African star Sharlto District 9 Copley, inexplicably doing Brian Sewell-style posh English), soon begs for mercy. Lee and his cameraman film from the floor, the ceiling, the drainpipes: anywhere to lend novelty, or fresh perspective, to tired, trashy material.


Nigel Andrews

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