While Spike Lee is probably not anyone’s first choice to direct the Hollywood remake of “Oldboy” it could certainly have been much worse. Steven Spielberg was attached at one point and while Spielberg is a brilliant director, he just does not seem to be the type to bring to “Oldboy” the darkness is required. At least the devastating was avoided: Michael Bay’s name is nowhere in sight.
Colin Firth turned down the role of the villain and that seems like a good thing. While the villain of “Oldboy” should definitely stray from the Christopher Walken style weirdo and toward a guy who appears nice and normal on the outside, Firth just never did seem right. Now comes word that Clive Owen is under consideration for the part of the villain in “Oldboy.”
Something about that seems quite right. While Clive Owen is in danger of being typecast as a villain, he is a villain who never seems to really be all that villainous. That ordinary quality that only verges into the neighborhood of outright dreaminess is a requisite for “Oldboy” to be pulled off. So much of the drama that is produced by this story that originated in its brilliant Korean form from Park Chan-wook is the work of seductive revelation. You need to allow the shocks and surprises to slowly draw you into the net of horrifying vengeance that lies as the movie’s heart. One element of that shock and awe is the revelation of who is behind all the mysterious hostage components that recreate the protagonist as a vengeful psycho himself.
Clive Owen is a good looking guy in a sort of ordinary way who usually carries with him the mystery of wondering whether he is actually going to wind up playing the good guy or the bad guy. That just slightly more attractive than average quality plays right into the hands of the construction of the personalities that clash in “Oldboy.”
Of course, I have said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: Oldman IS Oldboy is just great a poster tagline to have missed. I still stay Gary Oldman should star.