I still don’t know what to think of the new Oldboy. On the one hand, Spike Lee and Josh Brolin seem like an exciting team, especially with a strong cast like Elizabeth Olsen, Michael Imperioli, Lance Reddick and Sharlto Copley. But the original was so good, so original, and holds up so well, I’m not sure how a remake can possibly add to the overall experience.
Protosevich– who has been attached to the project since the days when it was being developed for Steven Spielberg and Will Smith– believes they have found the right mix of originality and fealty to the revered source material. “We all came from a place of honor to the original,” he said at the NYCC panel. “All of us were inclined to treat the material with as much respect as possible.”
Even Brolin’s protagonist, Joe Doucett was given a name that sounded intentionally familiar to the original’s Oh Dae-su. The unique but thematically similar approach definitely came out in the new clip screened at the panel, an extended look at Joe’s first round of vengeance against his captors at the “hotel.”
The scene follows Doucett stalks one of the mysterious henchmen who held him captive back to the prison, leading him to the belly of the beast… and picking up the iconic hammer along the way. As Doucett begins his assault, the sequence definitely builds, displaying a kinetic energy I found very in line with the classic. I could have done without an overt throwback like the hammer, personally, but the extended sequence of Doucett’s torture of Samuel Jackson’s Chaney– hinted at in the trailers– was totally fantastic, with a mean streak that I really dug.
If the whole movie can compare to what we saw here, the new Oldboy will at least be in the same league as its predecessor in regards to visceral thrills and nasty bad-assery. Leaving the panel, I’m still not completely sure I’m going to like the new film– or even feel it was a remake worth doing– but I am totally convinced I need to see it either way, and as soon as possible.