Scott Anderson’s review published on Letterboxd:
I feel as if I need to start this review off with a quick clarification: I am a HUGE fan of the original Oldboy, a work that I feel is an absolute masterpiece and sits inside my top 30 films of all time. Despite this, I am also not an automatic remake naysayer, as I feel it is not worth getting worked up about. If a new take on a fantastic story ends up being good as well, awesome, I am always willing to accept a great new film into my world. If the new film ends up being a pile of shit, so be it, I will always have the original to embrace.
I was actually excited to see a different take on the film, and when casting choices like Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen were announced I was considering the possibility that something fresh and interesting could be delivered as a result.
So now I have sat down and consumed the meal Spike Lee has prepared for us, and how did it taste? Like a infant child took a shit and let it sit out on a paper plate for a couple decades. That same child than returned to the plate o' shit on the day of his college graduation, retrieved his festering nightmarish stool, drove it to my house and forced me to eat it. Yes, in this scenario the shit didn't decompose, it merely grew more rancid over the course of 20 years. Accept my scenario. Actually, scratch that, grab a camera and film my scenario, as it would have to result in a better film than this Spike Lee turd.
It's like watching the same film again, only with terrible performances and slight changes in the story that I literally laughed out loud at. What in God's holy name was with the scene where Joe fights the group of soccer bros as their girlfriends looked on and screamed? Did I seriously see that correctly? It was one of a number of sequences that made this feel like a spoof movie, as if this was the Oldboy portion of Scary Movie 6.
This film is totally lifeless garbage, a remake without any of the passion or talent that went into what made the original so brilliant. It was as if someone ripped the soul from the work of Chan-Wook Park and instead composed something that was uninteresting, uninspired, dreadfully paced and unintentionally fucking hysterical. Sharlto Copley was horrendously miscast as the villain of the story, a performance so cartoonish and awkward that I felt like I was watching a character from a Saturday Night Live skit. Even the violence in this film felt forced and uncomfortable, completely lacking on the wonderful way the original film orchestrated the brutality. This was blood and brain splatter just for the sake of doing it, to seem dark and edgy when the film was already on life support.
Oh, and this new ending? Don't even get me started. It is like Lee tried to come up with the dumbest fucking ending he could think of as a joke. The poetic beauty of the original ending, the snowy landscapes and the vastness of their freedom, a man choosing sublime ignorance over a painful truth, completely missing here. I have no idea what the point of this entire take on the film was, and I am baffled anyone felt it was worthy of being made.