Oldboy

Metascore
49

Mixed or average reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 41
  2. Negative: 11 out of 41

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Tom Shone
    Nov 29, 2013
    60
    Oldboy is lively but numb — checked out, as if Lee were directing it following a period of intense convalescence.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 27, 2013
    60
    Most normal people will not see this as a "pleasant" film -- I hope that's the case, anyway -- but it certain makes you feel something.
  3. 60
    Watching Spike Lee’s decent but unmemorable remake of Park Chan-wook’s 2003 revenge picture "Oldboy," I kept trying to figure out why he’d done it.
  4. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Nov 26, 2013
    60
    If you have seen the earlier version, you can occupy yourself with point-by-point comparisons. If not, you may find yourself swerving between bafflement and mild astonishment, wondering how a movie that works so hard to generate intensity and surprise can feel so routine and bereft of genuine imagination.
  5. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 26, 2013
    60
    Weaknesses from the original remain, including a mustache-twirling villain straight out of a Bond film (Sharlto Copley) and a Freudian master plan that unravels the more you think about it. Give credit to Lee for staying fresh, even if this feels like slumming.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 26, 2013
    60
    Leave it to Spike Lee to deliver one of the strangest, most off-putting movies for the Thanksgiving holiday.
  7. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Nov 26, 2013
    60
    While Lee leaves some of Park's more memorable outrages behind, he and screenwriter Mark Protosevich find one or two ways to up the taboo-testing ante, small surprises that retain the tale's edge without pushing into the realm of exploitation.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 27, 2013
    58
    Lee is very good at creating a sense of free-floating dread, but he, and his screenwriter Mark Protosevich, don’t have a real flair for pulp.
  9. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 26, 2013
    58
    Spike Lee's remake of 2003's Oldboy is as brutally perplexing as the South Korean original, and needless for both its repetition and tweaks. Nothing is really lost in translation, or gained.
  10. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 4, 2013
    50
    While few will debate Lee's ability as a director, this isn't close to being in his wheelhouse. Oldboy cries out for a Brian DePalma, a Quentin Tarantino, or even a David Lynch. The end result bears out the suspicion that Lee isn't right for the material, nor it for him.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Nov 27, 2013
    50
    Like Martin Scorsese’s "The Departed," a bloated Americanizing of the Hong Kong cop movie "Infernal Affairs," the Lee Oldboy will startle newbies with its story ingenuities and morbid revelations, while leaving connoisseurs of the source film wondering why Hollywood couldn’t have left great enough alone.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 26, 2013
    50
    Graphically gruesome when it means to be a provocative look at vengeance.
  13. 50
    Lee, in a sort of humorless send-up of Tarantino, substitutes kinky for mystery, explicit sex and violence for sex and violence with real shock value. When it comes to this remake, you plainly can’t teach an oldboy like Lee new tricks.
  14. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidlin
    Nov 26, 2013
    42
    While Lee edges in enough unique elements to argue a second look at the brutal revenge tale, his lean, blackly comic result is transcendent only in fits and starts, stripping away much of its thematic and emotional heft into one of the most frustratingly accomplished disappointments this year.
  15. Reviewed by: Curtis Woloschuk
    Dec 9, 2013
    40
    To its credit, Spike Lee’s remake isn’t a slavish imitation. On the other hand, its grit is a grey substitute for the original’s vision and verve. Disappointing.
  16. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 27, 2013
    40
    This one has its technical virtues, but it’s frankly kind of a muddle, and may have been doomed from the outset. I would divide the potential audience for Oldboy into two groups: Those who will be disappointed and those who will be bewildered.
  17. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Nov 27, 2013
    40
    From Lee’s point of view, I can understand the enticing challenge of taking on a revered cult film Oldboy. But a pair of ill-conceived casting choices can jolt you out of the film, or worse, elicit the rolling of eyes and barely stifled giggle.
  18. Reviewed by: Matt Singer
    Nov 27, 2013
    40
    This is a very confused movie, designed for an audience that doesn’t exist.
User Score
4.6

Mixed or average reviews- based on 124 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 34
  2. Negative: 10 out of 34
  1. Nov 27, 2013
    5
    Ultimately, Oldboy isn’t an entirely worthless film; it is an unnecessary one. Brolin, Jackson, and Olsen’s portrayals are compelling and moreUltimately, Oldboy isn’t an entirely worthless film; it is an unnecessary one. Brolin, Jackson, and Olsen’s portrayals are compelling and more than worthy. Unfortunately, Copley, who is often a standout, feels like he’s delivering performance art here, rather than a performance. There are some haunting visual motifs and the plot twists are as depraved as one would imagine and may desire. Overall, the changes that are made detract from, rather than enhance the story. The end is where the film truly falls apart, though. The small and large shifts rob the tale of its nuance. Park Chan-wook’s complex meditation on violence, responsibility, revenge, and poetic justice is bastardized and morphed into a cartoonish and contrived version. There is very little in this new Oldboy that the original didn’t do better. You’re best off to save your money at the theater and rewatch or discover Chan-wook’s far more intricately woven and harrowing saga. Full Review »
  2. Nov 27, 2013
    1
    Any movie that gives away that there is a twist in the movie in the trailer is stupid. This is a typical remake that misses the point andAny movie that gives away that there is a twist in the movie in the trailer is stupid. This is a typical remake that misses the point and charm of the original. Please just go watch the original and skip this garbage. The Original is amazing. Full Review »
  3. Nov 30, 2013
    1
    I have to think that Spike Lee didn't even watch the original version before making his version. I also doubt that the person who approvedI have to think that Spike Lee didn't even watch the original version before making his version. I also doubt that the person who approved the script could have seen the original version.

    The childhood tragedy was the father's fault, not Joe's and thus there is a lack of justification for the future vengeance.

    Additionally, the ending was removed compared to the original, since there was no brainwashing or hypnosis in this new version.

    The story line of the new version is just so weak it's not worth seeing.
    Full Review »