A dangerous virus has spread around the world, essentially making people zombies. The protagonist wakes up in a hotel room, smeared with someone’s blood, devoid of memories, not even knowing his name. He only knows that someone is trying to kill him, but the female voice in his head will try to stop it.
I’ve heard recently that people are starting to gorge themselves on long takes, very long scenes shot without editing, requiring a titanic job of setting up and then putting all the parts, tangents, fuses and everything together. I confess I don’t understand why. After all, a well-prepared and correctly used long take can make a fascinating impression. Will it be a fight scene in which characters fly through doors and windows, and twenty people fight at once, or a leisurely walk through the streets of a bustling city, or a nervous run across the battlefield, as in “1917”. Unfortunately, there is still such a thing as “Too much of something good,” so if a movie is filled with such long shots, they lose their unique character – something that Hideo Kojima has completely misunderstood in recent years. And, of course, there is today’s film, in which the director, like Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman, presents the entire film as if it had been shot in one extremely long shot. Only “Birdman”, if I remember correctly, did it very well and convincingly, and “Carter” … No.
Carter (2022) – movie review [Netflix]. The plot is like an old video game
The main character (Joo Won) has no idea who he is. The voice speaking to him from a device apparently implanted in his head simply calls him “Carter”. Apparently, his daughter caught the virus mentioned above, and the only chance to be saved is a doctor in Korea. But first you must deliver his own daughter to him. However, it won’t be that easy. The CIA stands in the way of Carter and the two Koreas are not sure if he can be trusted as it is still unknown who is behind the North coup and the CIA seems to know him by a different name than he still does. What is it all about? Who is telling the truth and who wants to use the main character only for their own purposes?
Quite interesting, albeit a bit clichéd questions, but not all of them will be answered in this film, and some seem to be just holes without a meaningful answer. The creators are clearly leaving some gates ajar that could lead to a potential sequel. The entire film is structured like a video game—violent, fast-paced action with dozens of corpses all over the place, followed by a few minutes of explanation of this or that conversation. And so without a break for more than two hours. The problem is that in games we control the actions of the protagonist, so we are constantly involved. When all we do in between brief moments of storytelling is watch someone else “play”, it’s much harder to maintain the same level of interest. Besides, the whole thing isn’t even very well written. We wait a long time for some crumbs of explanation, the characters can easily be described with short “wife”, “rival”, “doctor” and so on, because nothing more can be said about them. So whether or not there is a movie depends on how the aforementioned action scenes turned out…
Carter (2022) – movie review [Netflix]. Excessive ambition, lack of talent
The beginning makes a good impression. The camera flies through the streets of the city, watching the bus from above. Later, he smoothly makes his way inside, shows his passengers, apparently Ethan Hunt’s colleagues from Mission: Impossible, because they all put on glasses equipped with invisible cameras, and head to the building where our main character is. Meanwhile, the camera makes a quick circle around the area and eventually flies into the room where Carter is. The action continues, we get the first rape, several naked Koreans and Koreans wearing thongs, another, then another, before Carter gets into the car to catch his breath and for the viewer to start getting bits of information explaining what is really happening here. The subsequent shots are full of ambition, some of them can make a really solid impression, whether it’s the composition or the position of the camera itself in relation to the action, but already in the first sequence, scratches begin to appear, which even cracks on the film glass are revealed on closer inspection.
There is a moment when Carter jumps out of the window of one building, flies across the street and crashes – along with other glass – inside another. In theory it sounds pretty cool and useless, but the way it’s done leaves a lot to be desired. Carter falls out of one window and flies down, then suddenly the background shifts as if he is flying straight ahead without any vertical movement. The camera shakes like hell, so that the viewer does not notice where the cuts are and how lame the computer graphics are. This is just the first example, but Jung Byung-gil’s film is absurdly full of poorly hidden cuts. The camera flies from place to place like it’s been burned, sometimes very smoothly when hanging from the drone (ie about 50% of all scenes), and sometimes giving the impression of epilepsy in the operator. And yet, for some reason, the lion’s share of all the cuts is so painfully visible and so torn to the image that even looking at it is a shame.
The movie is bloody as hell – you have to admit it. Carter kills literally dozens, if not hundreds, of people over the course of 134 minutes, using everything from firearms to knives and bombs. The camera is never afraid to show the blade entering the opponent’s body, and at the end of the film, it even gives us a long shot of the knife being slowly thrust into the opponent’s face. The problem, as is often the case, is the overly inflated ambitions of the artist. Already in this first battle in the bath, several dozen men and several naked women stand in front of the main character, one of them with a huge pistol. And just as what’s going on directly around Carter always looks solid, the background is usually just pegs standing and waiting, perhaps fidgeting a little to give the impression that they’re doing something. It is extremely difficult to reliably plan a multi-on-one fight, you need a lot of talent, which is definitely not enough here.
“Carter” is an action boy with big ambitions, but he doesn’t remember that will alone is not enough. Filled with flat characters, minimalistic if full of puzzles, the plot is weighed down by poor direction, poor editing, and poor visuals. Full of good intentions, the viewer is able to see the outlines of the film that the makers are TRYING to do, but if I don’t try, it won’t be enough for me to watch more than two hours. I recommend it only for group viewing, so that you can play around, for example, counting all cuts, or searching for strange errors in the background. It shouldn’t be otherwise.