This thriller is worth watching for several reasons. I enjoyed most the conflicting Point of Views shown. What could have become a convoluted storyline actually moves along crisply and clearly to its very UN-Hollywood-like ending. The question we are left with at the end is, “Who is telling this story?” In fact the whole film is about telling a story…a news story…and there are three different perspectives that fight for control of the narrative. But first a little summary.
Yoon Young-hwa is a news anchor man who has fallen into disrepute and is, at the beginning of the film, working in radio. While fielding calls, he has one man tell him that he’s going to blow up Mapo Bridge over the Han River. Yoon, hardly gives the call any credibility and actually challenges the caller to do it! The next thing we hear is a loud explosion from outside the office window and sure enough, a bomb has blown up a portion of the Mapo Bridge. We initially think that Yoon doesn’t report it right away because he’s concerned that someone will find out about his challenge and blame him, but the next few hurried minutes reveal Yoon’s eager desire to exploit this incident to manipulate a better job for himself. He goes to his manager and together they work out a deal with the terrorist to pay money for an exclusive on-air interview.
It’s here that the “story” becomes a struggle for control. The terrorist has a story he wants to tell about his coworkers dying on the job and families not being compensated. He wants the President of Korea to come to the station and apologize or else he will set off another bomb. Simple, right? The second person trying to control the story is Yoon himself. But he soon finds out that the terrorist has placed a bomb in his ear piece and threatens to blow him up if he leaves his desk or doesn’t follow instructions or doesn’t manage to get the president there. There’s a vivid display of this being a real threat that keeps Yoon electronically tied to his desk. The remaining person attempting to control the narrative is Yoon’s manager. He keeps suggesting how the story should go and what Yoon should say and he works hard to control how it ends. When Yoon decides to do what’s right instead of what his boss wants, his boss then leaks damning information about Yoon’s career to another TV news program. The boss then creates an alternate narrative for news watchers centering on Yoon’s past. Yoon now becomes the story.
Yoon, however, cannot be coerced, and the battle for whose story will be aired becomes visceral. It’s a tight thriller with lots of unexpected twists and information that keeps the viewer guessing. It’s lead, played by Ha Jung-woo (하정우) who shot to stardom after appearing as the villain in another thriller called The Chaser (추격자 2008), manages to keep the tension interesting while literally acting about 90% of the film from behind a desk…yeah, he’s that good!
It’s not that this is three stories about three different people’s needs and thus conflict arising. It’s about one story and three people fighting over how it’s to be told. That’s a pretty neat hat trick!