Sunday, November 6, 2011

해결사 (2010)

I didn't have many expectations for Troubleshooter when I first had seen it arriving at Los Angeles' CGV Cinemas and so I missed it, but I later learned that Ryoo Seung-wan had a hand in producing it, so I thought it'd be worth picking up and checking out, ordering the DVD. The action-crime-thriller turns out to be a pretty slick and entertaining piece, marrying bits of noir and chase films into a complex, but not contrived, plot that keeps the viewer mostly guessing and is packed with several strong action sequences.

In Troubleshooter, ex-cop Gang Taesik (Seol Gyeonggu) makes a living as a private investigator to support his precocious daughter. One day, on a seemingly routine trip to gather evidence of marital infidelity, Gang instead finds the dying body of a woman in the hotel and a videotape showing a dangerous mental patient (I Yeonghun) killing her. He gets a call from a mysterious man (I Jeongjin) who seems to know a lot about him, basically informing Gang that he's been framed and that, if he can do the man's bidding, the man will provide him evidence that will clear his name. What follows is Gang becoming a wanted man, evading the police squad led by Choe Sangcheol (O Dalsu) and doing what he can to comply with his antagonist's demands while trying to uncover just what's going on.

What I like about Troubleshooter is that it manages to have a complex plot where everything makes sense with every revelation and the revelations keep coming over the course of the watch, so there's no inconceivable twist to digest. This keeps the audience involved and just enough in the dark that each following twist is enough fun. I do wonder how Gang is as much of a badass as he is, single-handedly taking out large groups of police officers, but the Rule of Cool allowed me to look past that. Despite the complex plot, which works especially well with what we learn of Gang's own backstory, the character motivations remain rather straightforward, which keeps the film from becoming convoluted and while this results in a simple film, it's an effectively entertaining and engaging one that doesn't reach to be anything more than that.

Writer-director Gwon Hyeokjae keeps things stylistically simple and has a good command of action, never over-cutting the sequences so the flow of action is clear. There's a small line of comedy embedded into the film mainly around the antics of the police, which remains wonderfully understated and dry, acting as a brief release from the intensity of the thrills. Seol works well in his role, capturing Gang's frustration, bewilderment and moments of natural cool and I Jeongjin is perfectly smug as his antithesis, although with so flat a character, there are obviously limits. Likewise, many of the supporting characters get a little bit of time to shine, but as there isn't much to most of these characters, there's only so much you can expect. The film itself is photographed as well as you'd expect of a modern Korean film, capturing the streets of Seoul in its dirty urban glory.

Troubleshooter is an entertaining film thanks to its moments of explosive and impossibly cool action, its regular feeding of twist after twist in a complex, but classic, crime story of getting framed, and its engaging performances and direction. I wouldn't say that Troubleshooter breaks any new ground or stands with the best of thrillers, but in terms of entertainment value, the film delivers, making it an excellent evening at the movies for those looking for a fun ride. 8/10.