To say Winding Refn is a weirdo would be an understatement. His forms hold up aesthetically, but often have such a brutal, sporadic quality to them that they often fall flat in narrative or overall rewatchability. His latest venture proved to be just that with model centered horror thriller The Neon Demon.
Refn appears to be leaning more towards the spy genre as of now, but that doesn’t mean much if you know his work. The free-spirited director makes films for himself (I’m paraphrasing) and it shows, but that doesn’t make his unpredictable nature any less fascinating because one of my favorite films I’ve seen had to be Bronson starring Tom Hardy in a performance I was mesmerized with and that’s thanks to Winding Refn.
The official synopsis read:
The spy was one of the leading spies in Europe. An injury inflicted to his vocal cords during a failed mission six years ago left him mute, forcing him to leave his profession. Now, six years later, he is sought out and put on confidential assignment by a former Yakuza, now a retired Japanese businessman in exile in France, to track down and kill the head of the most dangerous Yakuza family in Japan.
Afraid of flying, our spy anonymously boards a cargo ship headed for Tokyo. An onboard explosion sinks the ship and our spy finds himself washed ashore on a life raft in southern Japan. As a mute, our spy must silently journey through Japan seeking 4 clues – symbolizing conquest, war, famine, and death – which will guide him to the unknown location of the Yakuza boss. Meanwhile, the Yakuza boss, known for his 2004 mass slaughter of Yakuza members who had turned against him, is believed to be plotting to reenter the Japanese underworld after living in his own surreptitious world in the mountains, void of all technology. This way of life becomes an obsession for the Yakuza boss. Rumors spread that he had committed suicide years ago but escaped prisoners from his hidden camp told stories of his plan for a comeback. Now rival Yakuza families suspect he is forming a master plan to return, a plan that unburies the most infamous story of Yakuza betrayal.
Our spy finds himself on an existential journey through Japan in search of pieces to the puzzle that will lead him to a confrontation with the ultimate Yakuza boss in a terrifying conclusion.
What did I tell you? If there’s something you should know if you’re not a Winding Refn fan is that he loves silence and that nothing is ever as simple as it sounds. Refn re-teamed with his Drive star Ryan Reynolds for a film set in Asia in Only God Forgives which was gorgeous to look at, but almost unbearably brutal at times with lack of dialogue making it a slowly paced, contrived film, but how can you not check out a film with this type of synopsis?
The violence Refn is likely going to create with a plot like that could rival Tarantino, but the core difference is the hyper realistic, quietly captured nature of it all that makes it so terrifying. Hopefully Refn can just buckle down with the style over substance approach and do something with this terrific premise instead of throwing it away for self indulging cinema.
Source: The Playlist
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