kailey’s review published on Letterboxd:
so have you heard of this revenge thing and that it may in fact be kinda a bad idea sometimes?
tired. we've been here before. we will be here again. every creator needs to ask themself if the point is in fact a point worth making even if it is the point. endless, draining cruelty and not much else. not smart enough to be about anything, not empathetic enough to make us care, not creative or fun enough to be a gonzo action flick, not tense enough to be a thriller, not twisty enough to hold our attention, you get my drift?
exhausted. vigilante movies want to have their cake and eat it too. they want to sternly lecture us about violent men and shield themselves from critique about nasty villains dressed up as heroes by claiming that you're missing the message. they then want us to cheer while the vaguely CIA-ish protagonist kicks and punches and tortures his way through the flick. innocent people are dragged into these people's mess and sexual violence is brushed off and only towards the end does the movie do anything with this. the paltry feints towards accountability ring so hollow.
sick. the protagonist fails to stop sexual assault when he could have because he wants to strike at the opportune moment and he gets his sister-in-law raped and killed. he cries at the end. boo hoo. i don't need these women's pain, only elucidated in how they relate to the two men in the center, for a trite Aesop fable i know by heart. i do not want moral complexity that's not particularly complex or moral. it's all grim window dressing to what the director really wants to focus on which is a tedious cat and mouse game, where the cat and mouse prance around for too long while they replay the same scene over and over.
frustrating when glimmers of a good movie lurk under the surface of a mediocre one. there's a version of this i love- one that leans into the black comedy elements and the absurdist tone. there's another version that maybe i don't love but feels more worthwhile where the psychological aspects are teased out more and the runtime is cut by at least 30 minutes. cut out the sexual violence and make it about two psychos torturing each other and lean into the messed up brain space.
the best scene in this movie- where the antagonist is picked up by two men intending to rob and kill him (one of whom happens to be the fourth suspect on the protagonists list)- is the most subtle one. it's the one that gleefully turns a lot of the revenge genre conventions back on it's head. why not focus more on the serial killer and his weird world? why not spend more time subverting rather than trafficking in all of the worst cliches?
walmart version of park chan wook as it stands. oldboy with nothing interesting to say. and i wasn't even a fan of oldboy.