Sunday, June 18, 2017

'Lucid Dream' Works as a Mystery Thriller, Fails as Science Fiction

Lucid Dream is a South Korean science fiction mystery thriller film about a journalist named Dae-ho (Go Soo) who turns to his psychiatrist friend So-hyun (Kang Hye-jung) and her lucid dreaming technology in order to access his subconscious memory of his son’s abduction three years ago.  With the help of Bang-seop (Sol Kyung-gu), the police detective assigned to the case who vowed to find his son, and Seong-pil (Park In-hwan), a grizzled private investigator, Dae-ho begins to track down the kidnappers from the clues he obtains from his lucid dream of the event, bringing him closer to finding out what happened to his son and who is ultimately behind his abduction.

The movie has a mix of smart, engaging parts and stupid, tedious parts.

Its storytelling works best when it focuses on Dae-ho as a desperate father looking into the mystery of his son’s abduction.  This is where much of the suspense and surprises lie.  It subverts expectations, and almost executes a solid narrative of twists-and-turns.  I admit that I didn’t immediately see its biggest plot twist coming when it’s actually retrospectively obvious.  It’s probably an indication of how well the storytelling does it in this respect.
What drags this movie down is the sci-fi.  It starts out promisingly when Dae-ho begins lucid dreaming, but it starts losing steam eventually.  Everything about its dealing with its “dream” plot devices becomes too messy.  By the time it arrives at its bombastic climactic dream sequence, I didn’t care for it anymore.  With the concept it has, becoming somewhat of an Inception rip-off is inevitable.  Now, this doesn’t necessarily make it immediately bad as long as it does something compelling with the execution of its borrowed aspects.  Unfortunately, it falls flat at it.  I was hoping for a huge surprise coming from this front to make it worth it, but none happened.

Actually, in a sense, this movie could have been also improved if it had less sci-fi – particularly, by removing the character of Park Yoo-chun (actor from The Girl Who Sees Smells) and just bring about whatever he contributes to the plot through So-hyun and her work.

Overall, Lucid Dream is pretty much a mixed bag for me. There are thrills to be had.  But it really could have used a more inspired approach in dealing with its sci-fi elements.  

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