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Mixed or average reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

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4.7

Mixed or average reviews- based on 88 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment. [Film District]
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: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 26, 2013
    75
    Oldboy is an immersion into pure twistedness. The purity of its twistedness is its saving grace.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 27, 2013
    63
    Lee’s Oldboy stands on its own. It just stands a bit shorter.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Nov 26, 2013
    39
    A slumming Spike Lee is still better than most directors at the top of their game, but Oldboy isn’t just Lee’s worst movie, it’s practically his “Wicker Man”.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 27, 2013
    0
    The longer it drags on, the sillier it gets. A preposterous narrative, illogical red herrings, trick endings, bad acting and—shazam! — Spike Lee turns into M. Night Shyamalan!

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 26
  2. Negative: 10 out of 26
  1. Nov 29, 2013
    9
    Everyone in the review section is a idiot. They're just hating on it because it's a remake.

    This movie was great. I'll just leave it at
    that.

    And IMO this stacks well with the orginal, I'll even say it does just about everything better.
    Again don't listen to these but hurt idiots, they just can't take off their nostalgia goggles.
    Expand
  2. Feb 14, 2014
    7
    Was reluctant to watch, ready to hate, but gotta say Spike Lee won me over. Too easy to be precious about something considered original when everything is just a remake anyway. Expand
  3. Dec 2, 2013
    7
    A few others have said this already but be wary of both the critical and user reviews they seem to largely be commenting on this movie in relation to the original. And I'll put it out there and say, without question, the original is better. If you haven't seen it, you should.

    If you haven't seen it and just hate subtitles (which is a shame, but I understand there are people out there that feel that way) this is absolutely a worthwhile film. It is dark, unpleasant and at times shocking. As noted elsewhere, some of the artistry and complexity of the original is lost here. But, what remains is a much more adventurous and disturbing film than you will find just about anywhere in Hollywood produced cinema these days (certainly I can't recall anything this dark getting a wide release). If you like your movies shocking, upsetting, violent, gritty and generally just extreme you can do a lot worse than giving this a watch.

    For those that have seen the original but are curious about the remake, so long as you go in knowing it's in no way going to beat the predecessor it's passable. I realize people are divided on Sharlto's character I thought it worked, but agree it was not nearly as well done as it could have been. The first and third act have some significant changes mostly for the worse, I feel, but I credit Spike Lee for actually trying. And I should note they aren't changes to neuter the extreme nature of the film quite the opposite actually, I feel they just didn't work. In particular, there was a great line in the original, 'Smile and the whole world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone' (or something to that effect) which is haunting within the context of the film but is never used here. Despite it being a small thematic element I found it one of the most profound and the film suffers greatly for not introducing it. All that being said, I still prefer this over the shot-for-shot remake of 'Carrie' where the director tried nothing new and presented us with basically just a carbon copy of the prior film.
    Expand
  4. Dec 12, 2013
    5
    Josh Brolin plays an arrogant, drunken ad exec who gets locked in a room for twenty years…yes, years. When he's finally released, he must identify his captor before he can seek revenge and be reunited with his daughter. After his one-room ordeal, you expect extreme retribution and there is some: a few brief, well-staged and violent encounters. When he turns to the mystery of his captor, things become more and more convoluted: the villain's omnipresence, those unlikely coincidences and ultimately, the surprise ending. Director Spike Lee has crafted some of this film to be involving and robust, but ultimately it loses momentum and proves a disappointment. Expand
  5. Dec 3, 2013
    3
    As a huge fan of the original film, I did everything I could to judge Spike Lee's version on its own merits. But he has made an inferior film that simply doesn't work on its own. The story isn't the problem the film doesn't work due to the choices Spike Lee has made. Strange changes in the story serve to call attention to the film's inability to entertain like the original. Samuel L. Jackson. Watch both versions of the film and you will be stunned at Lee's choice to create Jackson's character and storyline. And if you haven't seen the original, you'll certainly wonder why this story was ever told. In addition, the Director has made some choices that didn't work for me at all. In "Annie Hall", having Woody Allen and Tony Roberts watch flashbacks worked; here, to see Josh Brolin watching the action around him it was distracting, and a huge mistake much like the decision to tell this story this way. Expand
  6. Feb 25, 2014
    3
    I gained absolutely nothing from watching this. I completely wasting my time. I hoped it would do something interesting and new with the premise, but instead it treads the same ground, and somehow it manages to not do that properly.
    Watch the original. It did it better than this.
    Expand
  7. Mar 4, 2014
    0
    I saw the original first just to make a comparison and this was a really clumsy remake. All the subtleties of the original were bulldozed with obvious plot points that the original only gave away at the end. As twisted as the story is, I actually cared about the characters in the original. Spike really should have spent a little more time developing the main characters and maybe this would have worked. Really disappointed Expand

See all 26 User Reviews

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