Spike Lee's Oldboy remake may look alarmingly similar to the Korean original. It may require its own screenwriter to defend its existence in front of a Comic Con crowd. But if the movie has anything going for it over the 2003 Park Chan-wook original, it's Elizabeth Olsen. And good for them for recognizing that and highlighting her in this newly released clip.
If you haven't seen the original film, it's hard to talk about the role Olsen's character plays in the story. Then again, if you haven't seen the original film, drop everything you're doing right now and go watch it-- it's streaming on Netflix Instant.
So we're all insiders here now, yes? OK, so we can talk about how crucial Olsen will be to the narrative, and how complex her performance has to be, first as an able sidekick in the revenge plot, then as a love interest, then devastating as the film's horrible twist is revealed. Based on what we've seen from the trailer and photos the new film is sticking very close to the plot and even the look of the original, which means Olsen's character will be going to the same dark places as the original actress. And if you've seen Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene or Silent House, you know she can handle that kind of intensity and then some.
For a long time I had high hopes from Oldboy, faith in the inventive spirit of Spike Lee, in Brolin's steely action hero intensity, and even in the potential from Sharlto Copley as a villain (that was before Elysium proved he was a little hammy in the part). But at this point it looks like we're eyeing a much more straightforward remake, and now it's little details-- like a strong performance from an up-and-comer, and maybe some redemption for Brolin after Gangster Squad-- that will keep me interested. It's not enough to overcome the memory of the original, but it might be enough to get a few of us in theaters.
Oldboy opens November 27.