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
  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. Reviewed by: Geoff Pevere
    Nov 27, 2013
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 26, 2013
    50
    Graphically gruesome when it means to be a provocative look at vengeance.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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 94 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 28
  2. Negative: 11 out of 28
  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 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 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 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 »