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

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Nov 26, 2013
    91
    In the end, the most impressive performance may be Spike Lee's. He uses skill without gimmickry, flash without fuss, to tap the mesmerizing soul of this pulp.
  2. 88
    Lee’s is more of a hard-edged, hammer-and-nail noir than Park’s existential horror, and it’s far less concerned with the internal state of Joe’s mind than the external havoc it creates.
  3. Reviewed by: Bruce Ingram
    Nov 26, 2013
    88
    It’s generally a respectful homage that has every bit as much stylishness and visual flair.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 26, 2013
    83
    It's been so long since Lee made such a thoroughly amusing work that fans should have no problem excusing its messiness. But make no mistake... Oldboy is all over the place, sometimes playing like a subdued melodrama and elsewhere erupting into flamboyance and gore.
  5. Reviewed by: Matt Zoller Seitz
    Nov 27, 2013
    75
    This American version of Park Chan-Wook's Korean thriller is Lee's most exciting movie since "Inside Man" — not a masterpiece by any stretch, but a lively commercial genre picture with a hypnotic, obsessive quality, and an utter indifference to being liked, much less approved of.
  6. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 26, 2013
    75
    Oldboy is an immersion into pure twistedness. The purity of its twistedness is its saving grace.
  7. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Nov 26, 2013
    70
    Oldboy suggests a filmmaker doing almost as much soul-searching as the main character. There is a brashness in the risks taken, the very imperfections revealing an artist finding new inspiration. For Lee, this weird, brutal film seems to have freed him.
  8. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Nov 26, 2013
    70
    Surprisingly, the movie doesn’t bear much of the stylistic stamp we’ve come to expect of Lee, who’s in his generic journeyman mode here. But aside from a satisfyingly clever new direction in the denouement, what distinguishes the remake from the original is its cartoonishness.
  9. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Nov 27, 2013
    67
    For better and worse, Lee’s Oldboy is a more somber affair.
  10. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 27, 2013
    63
    One of the surprises of Spike Lee’s Oldboy is just how dark the film dares to get.
  11. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 27, 2013
    63
    Lee’s Oldboy stands on its own. It just stands a bit shorter.
  12. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Nov 27, 2013
    63
    In general, Lee directs with less visual verve than Park. Anchored by Brolin, who brings an almost simian physicality to his portrayal, this Oldboy feels simultaneously less showy, less nightmarish and less epic than the original.
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 »