Take Point (2018) ☆☆(2/4): Mindless and pointless with lots of shakings and shootings

South Korean film “Take Point”, which was released in South Korea as “PMC: The Bunker” yesterday, is a mindless and pointless action thriller movie filled with lots of shakings and shootings. To be frank with you, I am still confused about what exactly I saw from the screen during a screening I attended yesterday evening, so I hope you will forgive me if you find anything incorrect in my following description of its convoluted plot and non-descript characters.

Now let’s start with the premise of the movie, which is pretty simple at first. In 2024, the political situation between US and North Korea becomes quite tense as the supreme leader of North Korea, who is called ‘King’, refuses to shut down the nuclear weapon program although North Korea has recently been released from the UN sanction. As this problematic circumstance is decreasing the chance of his re-election, the US President orders a covert CIA operation whose success may turn the tide for him, and Agent Mackenzie (Jennifer Ehle) is ready to start what she has prepared for 6 years.

Because the highly sensitive nature of the operation, Mackenzie hires a group of mercenaries from some private military company, led by a South Korean guy named Ahab (Ha Jung-woo). Hiding inside a big underground tunnel/bunker located somewhere in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, Ahab and his group patiently wait for their target to arrive, and Ahab, who is commanding his team from his makeshift situation room, is quite confident that he and his group will succeed as usual. Once their target, a top-ranking North Korean general willing to give an important piece of information for his defection, is extracted from the operation site, they will instantly hand the general over to Mackenzie while getting paid well as promised, and she will then use the general’s information for increasing the chance of re-election for the US President.

However, not so surprisingly, the circumstance takes an unexpected turn. Several figures come from North Korea as expected, but the general is not among them, and someone more important comes instead of him for some unknown reason. That figure in question is none other than King, and, mainly because King has been one of the most wanted men in the world due to lots of bounty put on him by the US government, Ahab decides to change the plan, and he persuades Mackenzie to go along with that for their mutual benefit. Once he and his team are authorized to execute their changed mission, they make a swift attack on their new target, and it looks like everything is over once they capture King and then put his unconscious body in a big bag.

Of course, when Ahab and his team are about to leave, they suddenly find themselves in a very serious danger, and Ahab soon gets stuck in his situation room along with King’s unconscious body and a rookie member of his group. While his chance is decreased second by second, Ahab is determined to survive by any means necessary, and that means he must depend a lot on a North Korean doctor who happened to be with King during Ahab and his team’s sneak attack.

As Ahab and this North Korean doctor desperately try to reach for their chance of survival, the movie attempts to increase its level of intensity as serving us a series of loud, intense action sequences packed with heaps of shootings and explosions, but these action sequences are confusing and distracting while frequently mired in shaky camera work and choppy editing, and they soon become quite tiresome without giving us any sense of direction. Although there are some more stable visual moments in the film, they are presented with deliberately rough visual quality, and that puts more distance between us and whatever is going on the screen.

In addition, the movie also fails in terms of story and characters. It drags and stumbles especially during its middle part, and that only accentuates more of its sloppy handling of its cardboard characters. While it puts considerable emphasis on how Ahab and the North Korean doctor stick together for their survival, we do not sense much of whatever is developed between these two characters, and that is why we do not care much about the final action sequence in the film, which looks like a cheap imitation of a certain action sequence in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018).

The main cast members of the movie are seriously under-utilized on the whole. While Ha Jung-woo, who previously collaborated with director/writer Kim Byung-woo in “The Terror Live” (2013), is fairly adequate despite his strained delivery of English lines, Lee Sun-kyun often struggles with his thankless role, and Jennifer Ehle and Kevin Durand are totally wasted due to their bland supporting characters, though it was a bit amusing for me to notice Ehle holding a carton of milk from a well-known local milk company in South Korea at one point.

Overall, “Take Point” is utterly disappointing due to its many glaring flaws including its trite, superficial storytelling and increasingly wearisome action sequences, and it made me wonder whether I was a little too harsh on “The Terror Live”, which is at least tauter and more efficient in comparison. I was quite depressed as joylessly enduring its two hours of hollow sound and fury, and my only consolation in the aftermath was that there are still a few more new films to watch before the end of this year. Christmas already passed, but I am really wishing that I will quickly forget this dreary piece of work while watching them.

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