This past week saw the first big push in the marketing campaign for the highly anticipated remake of Chan-wook Park's revenge thriller. Oldboy was the second and most popular in a revenge trilogy by Park, based upon the Manga comic by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi. Despite the high number of intelligent individuals who have sought out this modern South Korean classic, it should come as no surprise that Hollywood felt obligated to remake this masterpiece for all of the ignorant English-speakers of the world.
The process of remaking Oldboy made the rounds through the rumor mill, at one point promising a film presented by Steven Spielberg and starring Will Smith. Daniel Craig was also offered the lead role, though it ended up landing in the hands of Josh Brolin, with Spike Lee in the role of the director.
As hesitant as I have been about this production, the release of a trailer and poster has only increased my skepticism. The official one-sheet features Brolin emerging from luggage in the middle of a field, with an umbrella-carrying individual in the background. The fantasy elements in the poster have been amped up, making it appear oddly colorful and light for the content in the film. An additional one-sheet has also been released, which is a bit more fitting for the mood of the movie I am familiar with.
The trailer also has some content which further fed my fears, especially the final shots which insinuate that the teeth extracting scene has been traded for a sillier throat-cutting sequence. We are also given the first look at Samuel L. Jackson in his significant role, as well as Elizabeth Olsen's revealing performance. The redband trailer has made a bit of fuss for already giving a preview of the nudity Olsen has offered up for the role.
Although I doubt that anything Spike Lee comes up with will supersede Park's masterpiece and cannot imagine a world where Brolin will carry this film, there are a few undeniably appealing elements of this remake. Despite an oddly cheerful one-sheet, the look of the remake is actually quite effective. Many of the sequences have the gritty industrial feel from the original, especially the iconic sequence involving a hammer and a hallway. Utilizing the talents of cinematographer Sean Bobbitt has done a great deal for the visuals of this film, impressing me far more than casting or the odd choice for director. Bobbitt is best known for his remarkable collaborations with filmmaker Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame), whose third feature also recently released a trailer and poster. I am still skeptical of the film as a whole, but I am eager to see it nevertheless. Watch the trailer below.