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.

More

Nigel Andrews


Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

Life & Arts on Twitter

More FT Twitter accounts