Montage (2013)

Rating: B

Dir: Jung Geun-sub
Star: Kim Sang-kyung, Uhm Jung-hwa, Song Young-chang, Jo Hee-bong

15 years ago, the daughter of Ha Kyung (Uhm) was kidnapped, and subsequently killed in a botched ransom handover, leaving the mother devastated and obsessed with finding the kidnapper. However, as detective Chung Ho informs her, the statute of limitations is about to run out – though just before it does, a clue lets Ha Kynug continue her search. The cop, meanwhile, is now on another case:: another kidnapping, which bears a very strong resemblance to the case from 15 years ago. At first, it seems that the perpetrator has returned to re-enact his crime, but then the evidence begins inexorably to point in a different direction, albeit one Chung Ho is extremely reluctant to accept.

Got to love the gloriously elegant plotting in this one, which manages to combine laying all the facts out for you, but in such a way that the revelation remains a genuine shock, even as it makes perfect sense. In terms of kidnapping thrillers, the scripts hits it out of the park, and is helped by sound performances across the board, portraying characters who also have solid motivations (even the kidnapper).

There are occasions when the fractured timeline isn’t as clear as it should be – one scene in particular, provoked confusion, until we realized it took place before the second kidnapping. However, the great majority of this works like a well-oiled machine, and I can forgive the need to throw the film’s timeline into a blender, when the result is easily well enough executed to be adequate payoff. While the notion of revenge, particularly the kind eaten cold, has long been a staple of Korean cinema, This film shows there’s still gold left to be taken out of that particular mine.