Director Spike Lee’s remake of the Korean thriller “Oldboy” by Park Chan -Wook is an intense, savage attempt with a Hitchcockian edge to it, but the violence fires way over the top.
Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is not a nice guy; he is a drunken advertising agent and slime ball that is not above hitting on the wife of a huge potential client’s wife. After he blows his account while getting soused at dinner, he heads out on one of his patented benders and passes out on the street. When Joe wakes up, he finds himself locked up in a jail cell that is made over to look like some kind of cheesy hotel room. Lousy food and cheap vodka are sent to Joe everyday day as he wallows in his misery, while watching a television feed which informs him that his estranged wife has been brutally murdered. Not only has his ex been murdered, but Joe, who is considered missing, is the main suspect in the attack. The television feed goes on to report that Joe’s 3-year old daughter had survived the attack. Joe Doucett doesn’t know at the time, but he will remain in captivity for 20 years. The question is, why?
During Joe’s stay in purgatory he becomes determined to straighten up and escape, so that he can find his daughter and confess his sins of the past. He writes her letters with the hope that some day he can deliver his messages, and this seems to give him purpose in his life. When all seems lost, Joe suddenly wakes up from a deep sleep and finds himself in a box in the middle of a desolate field. He emerges like some kind of Crusoe-esque jack-in-the box, with revenge on his mind and the game is afoot.
While Joe is hunting down his captors he meets a drug clinic worker (Elizabeth Olsen), who seems to have issues of her own, and the two join forces in the search to find out the identities of those responsible for the incarceration. What follow are some super violent sequences of Joe doing his best “Kill Bill” imitation during showdowns with the bad guys (one scene involves a hammer attack). For some unknown reason, Joe has transformed himself into some type of Bruce Lee killing machine while in captivity (perhaps Joe learned this stuff while watching television in the hotel).
Samuel Jackson does a brief stint as one of the captors, and Sharlito Copley (District 9) is the man at the top; but the question remains ─ Why? If you can handle a lot of bloodshed see it, if not, save your money.
My Rating: 3 of 5 Hammer Attacks.