“Okay” really is as good as Carter gets in the midst of a whole lot of bad.
This review of the South Korean Netflix film Carter (2022) does not contain spoilers.
In the midst of a pandemic, Carter wakes up in a room with no clue as to who he is or how he got there. All he has is a device in the back of his head, an explosive inserted in his mouth, and a voice in his ear, but it is that voice he must trust if he is to get out of whatever jackpot he’s involved in alive.
Carter just wasn’t very good. There are some truly bizarre creative choices at play here that gave a film a really odd feeling overall. It has its moments where it’s okay, but that really isn’t enough to salvage the rest.
One of the aforementioned questionable creative choices is the decision to try and make the whole film look like it was filmed in one take, which it very clearly wasn’t. I’m not sure what the effect was supposed to add to the viewing experience in all honesty. The cuts were not edited anywhere near well enough to hide them, and it was very distracting throughout the whole film.
The shameful thing about the attempt to make Carter look like a massive single-shot take is it really took away from some of the film’s stronger elements. The hand-to-hand combat sequences, for example, were pretty well choreographed, but because of how little you got to see thanks to the way the film was edited, they were absolutely wasted. It really did massively overreach itself in that capacity.
As for the storyline… I was about as confused about Carter as Carter himself was. For the vast majority of the film I didn’t know what was really going on, or who was on which side. I’m not sure whether this raging sense of disorientation was intentional (I’m thinking not), but with everything else going on in the film, it was simply too much to try and focus on and wrap my head around.
The best way I can think to describe the experience of watching Carter is that it plays out in a way not too dissimilar to a significant main mission in a video game that you’re scrambling your way through for the first time. It will leave you unsure of which way is up and what exactly could be coming next, but not in the sense that you’ll be on the edge of your seat and eagerly awaiting more. Its awful stylistic decisions make it a real drag to get through, and really squander its stronger aspects. In short, the word “disappointing” should more than cover it.
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