When Carter ( Joo Won ) comes to, he can’t remember anything and doesn’t know who he is or what brought him to this place. However, he doesn’t have time to ponder, the voice in his head takes care of that. She orders him to go and escort a girl named Jung Ha-na ( Kim Bo-min ). If he doesn’t, he’s dead. If he does anything else or disobeys orders, he’s dead. But there’s a good reason the girl needs protecting: she’s the only antidote to a virus that’s already in raged in the USA and North Korea and is now also threatening South Korea. Others know this too, which is why Carter soon finds himself being pursued by numerous people who want to kill him…
If the main character in a film or series comes to himself at the beginning of the story without any memory, then the intention is clear: the audience should collect the pieces of the puzzle parallel to the protagonist and gradually put them together until a picture emerges at the end. The Girl In The Water was a recent example of what that could look like. The suspense mostly consists of searching for clues and solving riddles. Theoretically, the Netflix film Carter goes in a similar direction, although here the title character suffers from amnesia and really can’t remember anything. And yet this could hardly be more different when a quiet mystery thriller becomes an action spectacle.
In the beginning, you can chat a bit, so to the exposition. But a short time later, the pace is drastically increased. Then there is no more time to talk. Not for thinking anyway. However, director and screenwriter Jung Byung-Gil ( The Villainess ) has no interest in that either, as he proves early on. Instead of worrying about the history of our memoryless Carter, he prefers to have him face off against new enemies every second. The trappings of the virus are also surprisingly irrelevant. It’s just used as a reason why there are all these action scenes. You could even have left out the introduction entirely without making a significant difference.
Of course, action films don’t necessarily have to tell elaborate stories. It is more important to the target group of such strips that it has something to offer optically. This is certainly the case with Carter, even if the sight takes some getting used to. Jung is attempting a one-shot look here, i.e. without any discernible cuts. Something like that can be very exciting like for example, the German thriller Victoria has fooled. When used correctly, the feeling of real-time and the restlessness associated with it arises. In the case of South Korean production, however, the result is not entirely convincing. For one thing, the tricks are pretty obvious. Overall, this all looks a bit cheap – and extremely artificial. It’s more like a computer game than a movie.
At times it can be entertaining. Extended to more than two hours, this gimmick is above all exhausting. Even if the omission of pauses or narrative passages was intentional and legitimate, Jung did neither himself nor his audience any favors by doing so. The settings, which are varied in and of themselves, when Carter fights his way through the whole country, blur into a mush of colors that long before the end no longer tastes of anything. After all, this action film stands out from the majority of genre contributions. It’s just not necessarily better, especially since the fights focus on hectic instead of choreography. The Bullet Train that started this week has more to offer. And with regard to the tension, more would have been desirable here.