Movie review: Decibel (PG13), Latest Movies News - The New Paper

Movie review: Decibel (PG13)

Shh! Quiet, everyone. Explosives triggered by sound have been planted in the city centre of South Korea’s Busan with maximum casualties intended – and a retired navy commander (Kim Rae-won) the specific target.

South Korean director Hwang In-ho bills Decibel as a “sound terror action” blockbuster, and in his urban terrorist thriller where any noise is a potential detonator, all credit indeed to the sound engineers for wringing mortal suspense from even a boiling kettle and pinging phones.

The mysterious bomber has wired up the loudest, most popular public venues.

In anonymous calls, he taunts Kim’s commander to decide between saving the crowds at a football stadium and a water park, and his family at a neighbourhood playground — and then between saving his wife (Lee Sang-hee) and their daughter (Shin Yun-ju).

Kim, 41, is the envy of every middle-aged dad, performing his own stunts in starched navy whites barely soiled as he desperately races around to defuse the attacks. No comfy tee needed for better jumping off buildings and diving underwater in the six-hour campaign of chaos.

The veteran, a national hero, is, however, a flawed one, burdened by a shameful lie behind another impossible life-or-death dilemma a year earlier. Flashbacks recount a doomed submarine expedition and how the captain of his crew survived a personal loss to now pursue a vendetta against him.

Lee Jong-suk plays this antagonist with textbook-creepy psychopath mannerisms. The movie is strictly genre fare, but the thrills are non-stop, and it has a human drama motivated by moral choices.

Hot take: The tense story and Kim’s anguished performance are the bomb.

Verdict: 3 stars

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