Jason Bourne x Korea = “The Suspect”
Director Won Shin Yeon and star Gong Yoo collaborate on yet another Korean spy thriller (there have been so many in the past year) that easily prioritizes action over plot in this Jason Bourne copycat flick. From the zooming and shaky camera work, to the use of surveillance cameras to track every move of the hero and even down to the relentless pulse-pounding score that never lets you forget how intense everything is supposed to be, this is a Korean Jason Bourne movie through and through.
But while that style worked for the Bourne films, it just seems a bit generic in “The Suspect.” Yoo has proven to be an adequate actor in his previous work, but isn’t given much to do as the lead in the film besides run around the country expressionlessly, going from one fight to the next. He’s given a back story of being a North Korean defector who’s seeking revenge for the murder of his wife and daughter, but that plot doesn’t really go anywhere and feels like it was tacked on as an afterthought. Combine that with his minimal dialogue and Yoo isn’t really given an opportunity to stand out. Instead, it’s the supporting characters who are more memorable. Park Hee Soon as Colonel Min has some fun playing an intense spy hunter brought in to capture Yoo, and veteran character actor Jo Seung Ha also hams it up as the Intelligence Department chief.
But the plot is overly complicated and stumbles over itself too many times. At 137 minutes, this film could have easily shaved off 20 minutes or so. There are many thrilling sequences meant to appease action fans, but the film could have taken out a few of them, especially since they’re all filmed in the crazily frenetic close-up style of the Bourne films where you can’t really tell what’s going on anyway.
Korean fans of the Bourne films could possibly appreciate their country’s attempt at creating their own version of the Hollywood blockbusters, and action film veterans will enjoy the high octane intensity of the film, but ultimately there’s nothing memorable to take away from the film.
“The Suspect,” 137 minutes, is not rated and opens in theaters this Friday.