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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 102 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: 15 out of 32
  2. Negative: 11 out of 32
  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. Sep 6, 2014
    7
    I have a confession to make: I have never seen the original, so called 'superior' Korean original. But from what I've seen: it's a case of 'lost in translation'. For the most part, Oldboy's plot is highly original, the ultimate denoument of the story, shocking and heartbreaking. The casts gave their best A-game: be it Brolin, Olsen and Cooper as well as a particularly hammy Copley. But for the most part, it's a well made thriller that seemed to be 'butchered' a bit by the Producers before release, rumor has it. If such plot line and signature set pieces were based on a Korean film, then I suppose it's time for me to dwell into Korean fare then. Originality...something that Hollywood has missed in recent year.... 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.
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  4. Dec 1, 2013
    5
    I came into the movie with open arms and i tried to embrace it but it just fell flat. Yes, I am comparing it to the original. Is that unfair? No, every remake has the opportunity to learn from its predecessor and fix mistakes but Lee's Oldboy doesn't do that. There are a few enjoyable sequences in the beginning but after Brolin goes to meet with the antagonist, the movie is almost worthless to continue watching. It doesn't match the pacing, suspense, or acting from '03. It's so poorly directed that I laughed at inappropriate moments. And there's this soap opera behind-the-shoulder zoom-out around the finale that feels like a megaton bomb of garbage thrown in for good measure; to assure that no one would walk away satisfied from the theater. There's no contest between this and the original. In it's own right, I give the movie a 5. 5 for the first half of the movie and 0 for the other half. On a side note, Josh Brolin was not the right choice for this project. He can't match the dynamic emotional acting that we saw Choi give in 2003. That was so critical to the sympathy the main character is supposed to draw. Expand
  5. May 25, 2014
    4
    was hoping this was going to be a good remake but i was completely wrong everything about this movie is pure crap. Spike Lee has made some decent film in his time so i was hoping that he wouldnt mess this film up. I already knew it wasnt going to be anything like the original as in most cases with remakes but this is a slap to the face to the original. The cast is one of the things that really made me want to watch it with Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Elizabeth Olsen but in this i find Brolin's character a joke and dont care for as with the original i feel sympathy for the rest are just "meh" so you dont even care for them as well. I guess the fact that i was expecting more from this movie makes me dislike it even more. In the end this is just another average remake with nothing to see and i would recommend watching the original and never watching this movie unless want a good laugh.

    Overall i give it a 4.0
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  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 32 User Reviews

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