|Review by Dean Galanis|
The feature writing and directing debut from Sang-yoon Lim, A COMPANY MAN is a rather impressive action/noir/corporate satire.
It stars Ji-seob So as a loyal worker for a company that on the surface deals with metals, but is in actuality a hitman-for-hire organization.
So is a trusted, efficient worker for the company…until, through a series of circumstances, he wants out.
The company does not take this news well…
Fast-paced, exciting, brutal, emotionally involving, A COMPANY MAN is anything but boring.
While it certainly owes a strong debt to films ranging from Michael Mann’s THIEF to John Woo’s THE KILLER, from DRIVE to the BOURNE films, Lim’s feature still never succumbs to “you’ve seen it all before” disinterest.
So is subdued yet charismatic (not unlike Ryan Gosling in DRIVE), and the supporting cast is uniformly fine.
The action scenes are heart pounding and witty; there’s a terrific, super-stylish fight between three people in a car that is very cleverly handled. Many of the fight scenes and shootouts are kinetic but brief, but hold on for the climax. MINOR SPOILER: anyone who has ever worked in a crappy job with crappy people will have a whopper of a wish fulfillment action climax to savor. This is where Lim’s inner Woo comes out strongest.
One of the most intriguing, relatable aspects of the film is that if you look past the gunplay, it’s really about a guy who’s sick of his job, and more specifically, with his company and corporate politics. Lim has taken the average Joe’s disillusionment with the middle class dream and made it into a gun opera, and God bless him for it.
Lim occasionally teeters dangerously close to pretension (his use of a hawk to symbolize So’s desire to be free is made palatable in its second appearance, which is actually subtle and amusing), and while the film flies by like a bat out of hell, the at-times almost epic feel is muted by the short running time.
No matter. This is a terrific debut, warts and all. I’m looking forward to great things from Sang-yoon Lim.