Ten years ago, South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook unsettled the film world with Oldboy, the shocking story of a man released back into the world after 15 years locked in a hotel room. Understandably angry about his unexplained captivity and the murder of his wife, this man goes on a gruesome rampage of revenge. In spite of the film’s unsettling subject matter, it eventually attracted the attention of renowned crowd-pleasers Steven Spielberg and Will Smith, who planned a Hollywood remake with I Am Legend screenwriter Mark Protosevich. While it’s not clear why Spielberg and Smith ultimately abandoned the project, it seems likely that it had something to do with the original film’s unblinking brutality.
The remake landed in the hands of a duo that would seem like a more logical fit: actor Josh Brolin and director Spike Lee. Known for embracing uncompromising projects, both have suggested that they wanted the remake to be no less shocking than the original. Judging from the reaction of co-star Elizabeth Olsen, it seems they have succeeded. Speaking at a New York screening of the film earlier this week, Olsen expressed particular shock about the ending, suggesting either she skipped the original or Protosevich reinvented its memorably twisty finale. “I’ve never been more shocked and surprised by an ending since maybe like The Sixth Sense,” she said. “No one spoiled it for me. No one hinted at it for me. And I got to experience it with just a blank canvas.”