September 20, 2008

Libera Me: Pyro Mon Amour

Pyromaniacs provide firefighters with jobs. They also share a common interest. Still the two groups are improbable friends, at odds with each other for as long as one side wants to fan the flames and the other side wants to douse them. Libera Me isn't about to change all that. Sticking to the obvious, Yang Yun-ho's paean to the men with long hoses is basically a classic match-up between a fireman (Choi Min-su) who can psychically sense arson and a troublemaker (Cha Seung-won) who wants to see buildings burn. The hero's got guilt over a lost partner; the villain was inevitably abused as a child. Neither guy is particularly interesting. Luckily, fire loves a vacuum so in Libera Me, the fascination of both men emerges as the star. Exploding out windows, through walls, and up elevator shafts, this incendiary diva engulfs barely sketched out secondardy characters whom we never knew and we'll never miss. As unlucky extras flap their arms in panic or lie on the ashy floor, beautiful blasts of red, orange, and yellow fill the screen. Crackling dialogue is replaced by plain crackle. Explosive drama by repeated explosions. This isn't a movie. It's a promo for Zippo lighters.

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