If you, like us, are an avid JooWon fan, you will have taken notice of the release of his latest project, “Carter”. A Netflix original, this movie became available on their platform beginning of August. Korean movies are usually so vastly different from K-dramas and can be a hard miss, so I approached this with a hint of hesitation. After seeing the poster and watching the trailer though, I was looking forward to the movie.
Boy oh Boy! Not in a long while have my expectations been turned on its head like this. Based on the trailer I imagined a Jason-Bourne-type of action movie. However, what I got instead was Ninja Assassin. Except the ninjas had been replaced by secret agents hailing from different nations. But, So…much…gore…!!!
Let’s start of with a brief summary of Carter’s plot.
Carter Lee (JooWon) wakes up in a room covered in blood, surrounded by secret agents pointing their guns at him. They ask him about the owner of the house, Dr. Jung, and his young daughter Ha-Na. Dr. Jung is the only one able to invent an antidote against a dangerous virus. He used this antidote to successfully cure Ha-Na.
People infected with the virus essentially turn into violent zombies and are doomed to a painful death within weeks. Due to the severity of the issue, Dr. Jung’s antidote and it’s recipe are highly coveted by powers across the world. Thus his safety and that of his daughter are in grave danger.
Back to Carter. Once awake, he has no memories of anything, including his own identity. Even his own appearance in the mirror seems foreign to him. Add to this a recently stitched up wound in the shape of a cross at the base of his neck. A female voice from a device embedded in his head suddenly starts giving him instructions. The voice directs him to find and save Dr. Jung’s kidnapped daughter. Refusing to do this will end in his own demise as well as the death of his own daughter (who he can’t remember).
And so it begins. Carter manages to find Ha-Na and thus starts their bloody journey of bringing her to safety. Along the way, he is told different “truths” about himself by different entities. One prevalent being that he is a former secret agent named Michael Bane. However, someone likely changed his physical appearance as he looks completely different now.
END of summary
If you don’t care for any further spoilers or more of my opinions, this would be your last chance to turn away.
Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The acting: I have only good things to say about the actor’s work in this. From the main cast including the child actors all the way to supporting actors, everyone seemed to put in their 100%. There was chemistry in their interactions and the action scenes were well executed. Also no cringe to report during the English dialogues within the movie.
The plot: Although the basic storyline of “Carter” is nothing new and seems like a mash-up of famous action films, I am okay with that. Sadly however, the plot gets lost among overly long fighting scenes. Fewer and/or shorter action scenes would have allowed time in between to actually develop the plot. I mean there is so much to discover for the main character. Not only his identity but the real intention of all these different groups vying for his trust.
Some scenes felt like such a waste of time since they did not explain anything about the plot. Like why am I watching a 10-20 minute long scene of Carter fighting off the occupants of an entire sauna while only wearing thongs? Couldn’t the clothing brand product placement scene have been inserted before this one? Just asking, don’t come for me.
The cinematography: It seems a lot of folks are torn about the camera work on this movie. Listen, I loved the different angles of each shot, and contrary to many it did not have a dizzying effect on me. Doing a continues shot while turning the camera on its head or going full 360 degrees is for sure a different way of doing things.
What made me stop the 2 hour and 14 minute movie at the 1 hour and 30 minute mark was something else. Due to the over the top action scenes (think “Fast and Furious” on steroids) it was glaringly obvious every time the actors were using a harness/rope for these scenes. As mentioned earlier already, said scenes were also just too long and too frequent. I started scrolling on my phone waiting for each of these to be over so we could get back to the story. Chatting with R. who was also watching it in her corner of the world also greatly helped.
The directors vision for “Carter” seems to also have grossly exceeded the movie’s budget. CGI effects and graphic design are absolutely disastrous. It is also blatantly obvious every time a green screen was used, which seems to be in most if not all of the car chasing scenes.
The final verdict: In case you did not guess it by now, “Carter” is a resounding Nay for me. Hopefully some select audience somewhere enjoys it more then I did, since the director and cast seem to have worked hard on it.
Until we drama again,