They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, and locking someone in a lightly furnished prison cell for twenty years without offering any kind of explanation is pretty chilly. Such is the fate of Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) in Spike Lee’s remake of famed Korean thriller Oldboy, which also co-stars Samuel L. Jackson as the warden of Joe’s prison and Elizabeth Olsen as one of the first new allies he finds upon his release.
The red band trailer offered a look at some of the extreme violence that will be on offer in the film, but this new green band trailer is perhaps the better of the two. Giving a slow introduction to audience members who have not heard of the movie before and then moving in to the mystery at the centre of the narrative, with Sharlto Copley’s calm-voiced antagonist, Adrian Pryce, prompting Joe Doucett to answer two questions in order to save his daughter’s life, it’s a pretty compelling set-up.
The trailer also draws on the parallels between Joe’s life in prison and events in the outside world that were highlighted in a recent marketing campaign for Oldboy. Due to his lack of human contact whilst in the cell, the protagonist gets all of his knowledge about the outside world from the TV which, in the original film, leads him to have an unfortunate dearth of creative swear words upon which to draw whilst exacting revenge.
When asked what he thought of Lee’s Oldboy by LA Times, Brolin rather surprisingly did not give the standard PR-friendly speech, instead saying, “I do have opinions, but it’s better to bite my tongue.” This may or may not have been a reference to a particularly memorable scene from the original Oldboy, but if it’s an accidental turn of phrase then it’s quite an amusing one. Brolin did, however, admit that he prefers the three-hour long director’s cut to the theatrical cut, as it is apparently quieter and more focused on the characters than the action.
The runtime of the theatrical version is listed as a modest 104 minutes, which means there’ll likely be a hefty amount of footage exclusive to the director’s cut. The extra hour or so is likely the difference between a fairly straightforward action thriller and more sedately-paced character study of Joe Doucett and Adrian Pryce, through Brolin’s preference for it doesn’t necessarily mean it will resonate with audiences more than the theatrical cut. As with many films, the case may be that each version has its own unique merits, and both are worth watching.
Oldboy is out on theaters on November 27, 2013.