In Spike Lee’s remake of Park Chan-Wook’s classic revenge thriller, we follow Joe Ducette (Josh Brolin), a misanthropic ad executive with a drinking problem, as he finds himself locked up in a room after a drunken night on the town. There, he learns from a TV report that he has been framed for the rape and murder of his ex-wife. When he emerges as a killing machine hellbent on revenge after 20 years of sit-ups and yoga exercises, he finds himself dealing with a funky Samuel L. Jackson and a creepy Sharlto Copley as his enemies while having only a bartender (Michael Imperioli) and a recovering drug addict (Elizabeth Olsen) in his corner.
Like with all other remakes, this one begs the question… why? Why would you want to remake a movie that was pretty much flawless in its relentlessness and maniacal charge? The original came at you no holds barred with all of its stylized violence and while Lee and writer Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) manage to keep most of it intact, this movie feels unnecessary from the start.
While looking for answers, Doucette gets to kill a lot of people with a hammer, a bat and his fists with one long fight sequence in a warehouse against dozens of baddies as my favorite. There’s a sense of fun here with Brolin whirling around like a psychopathic version of Gene Kelly that’s missing from the rest of the movie. If they pulled this through in the rest of the movie, it least it would have offered a different angle. Instead we get to watch Lee’s attempt to direct a Tarantino movie without the geeky movie knowledge as “Oldboy” builds up to its gritty ending.
I’m not saying “Oldboy” is a bad movie. I actually enjoyed it… I just don’t understand the point and just like Brolin throughout most of the movie, I’m left struggling for answers as to why.