Netflix’s Carter puts action above all else

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Netflix has released many dazzling, action-packed episodic series this year, including we are all dead Y Money robbery: Korea. But the next big action piece from him is a movie, Carter, starring Joo Won in the lead role. Joo Won’s usually well-defined heartthrob image undergoes a surprising transformation here into the rugged, thug-like Carter (the namesake of the film’s title). Carter is directed by Jung Byung-gil, who has made a career out of directing high-octane, stylized action in films like the villainess (2017) and murder confession (2012).

Viewers looking for a solid action flick will find plenty of thrills in the captivating and elegantly edited. Carter, where all the action sequences are woven together to give the film a “one take” effect. There are stunning aerial views of rooftop brawls and waterfall escapes, along with bone-chilling chases through dimly lit, cavernous rooms, set against the increasingly familiar backdrop of tension between North and South Korea. Carter he intends to achieve in action, choreography and scenery, he achieves it with great aplomb.

However, those looking for a more character-focused story or who have a lower tolerance for long, elaborate action sequences may find CarterThe running time of 132 minutes is too overwhelming.

Carter begins with an exposition-laden introduction, noting that the Korean peninsula is dealing with a terrible infectious outbreak of the “DMZ virus.” The viral infection creates “animal-like behaviors” and increases violent tendencies in those infected. The leaders of North and South Korea are working together to create an antibody treatment using the blood of Doctor Jung’s daughter, named Ha-na, who was cured of the DMZ virus infection through the research of her father. However, Dr. Jung (Jung Jae-young) and Ha-na (Kim Bo-min) go missing during a transfer arrangement to North Korea, where the doctor was supposed to continue his research and mass-produce a cure for cancer. virus at the Sinuiju Chemical Weapons Institute. There, crowds of infected North Korean patients are also kept in quarantine. Meanwhile, Carter wakes up to find a mysterious voice giving him instructions through an earpiece. He has no choice but to go ahead with the mission, as he has a lethal bomb embedded in his mouth.

The DMZ virus outbreak comes just 10 months after a ceasefire between North and South Korea, with the armistice poised delicately amid mistrust on both sides over the failed transfer of Doctor Jung and Ha- na. The geopolitical backdrop and health crisis provide the necessary narrative stakes amid the film’s relentless whirlwind of action. There’s also a full cast of fascinating characters: foreign liaisons, members of the North Korean Workers’ Party, military leaders, intelligence agents, infectious disease doctors, and children. Unfortunately, each of them is only lightly used (with the exception of young Ha-na); they exit as quickly as they enter, leaving viewers to mourn missed opportunities to delve deeper into the film’s narrative and character arcs.

There is a keen sense in Carter that action will always take precedence over character development or well-crafted emotional twists. The film also has a considerable amount of gore, which feels drawn out or even indulged by the film’s “one-shot” style. At various points of Carter, viewers may struggle to find answers to some fundamental questions in the sacred art of storytelling: What is currently driving the story’s protagonist, Carter, to take such a disproportionate amount of risk? On the other hand, what are the reasons behind the antagonist’s decisions? In essence, what is the motivation behind each character’s action?

One of the biggest talking points of Carter it is the “single take” style in which it was filmed. Although the film is made up of multiple shots, the overall effect works. As the film gasps from a public bathhouse to a bus, a warehouse, a medical center, a clothing store, and an airplane, just to name a few, the “single take” style provides Carter a sense of vastness in space that few action movies have been able to achieve. The camera relentlessly chases the equally industrious Carter through physical space, trapped together in chaos and uncertainty. There is no relief offered by an alternate angle and no additional knowledge gained through a setting plane; the enemy can emerge from any direction.

joo won in Carter.
Image: Netflix

Several sequences are a triumph of cinema, particularly those involving vehicles soaring across a dizzying array of backgrounds: a motorcycle chase scene through labyrinthine streets and alleys, a confrontation with an airplane that transforms into a scene skydiving fight (which was filmed with the actors actually jumping) and a fight sequence involving trucks and jeeps speeding through a farm landscape. The sequences come together almost effortlessly, a stark contrast to the unimaginably labor-intensive work and planning that went into creating Carter. At times, the movie feels like a giant, tangled escape room game. Perhaps there is a lingering question here as to whether CarterNetflix’s cinematic achievements go to waste on the small screens where Netflix audiences will find the film, as all the effort may not fully translate to home viewing.

It is in the last 25 minutes of the film that Carter it really delves into the larger issues and develops an unexpected emotional gravitas. There is the question of kinship, the family we are born into and the “family” we find, and how the duties of responsibility and care figure into these relationships. The film also raises questions about identity and information warfare through Carter’s memory loss. The pervasiveness of technology—the film takes this very literally, via the electronics embedded in Carter’s body—resonates with relevance. Just as Carter grapples with trying to figure out his identity through the relentless influx of text messages, as well as information provided by a faceless voice, technology has also unnervingly become a major force in determining knowledge about us. themselves and the world.

These are all interesting questions raised by Carter. However, viewers may have to dig deep under the film’s explosions and chase scenes to find them.

Carter is streaming on Netflix now.

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