January 16, 2009

Puzzle: So What If It All Fits Together

You've seen this before. Mismatched strangers unite to commit the ultimate heist then something goes awry sending everyone into a panic as each wonders whom to trust. It worked for Ryu Seung-wan in No Blood, No Tears; even minus an actual theft, it worked for Kim Jin-seong in Geochilmaru. But it doesn't work for Kim Tae-kyung in Puzzle. The problem is Kim's screenplay traffics so much in the familiar that you suspect that the greatest crime being committed on screen here is plagiarism. Equally guilty of artistic misdemeanors are the actors who commit identity thefts of performances they admire instead of actually creating a role all their own. That's if you can call Hong Seok-cheon's ranting or Park Jun-seok's afro-fluffing a form of acting. I think it's called "acting out." And they have every right to be angry or pissy with Kim's script which gets so wrapped up in the tangled web it's weaving that it forgets to create a spider. Puzzle is in many ways a series of dialogues relating an outline. Through one-too-many flashbacks which incorporate too-too-many coincidences, we learn every possible thing of note for all five characters. What's missing is the mystery. In a thriller, that's a deadly omission.

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