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(Movie Review) 'Lucid Dream': Unsalvageable mediocrity

All Headlines 09:37 February 21, 2017

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- Domestic sci-fi crime thriller "Lucid Dream" is the story of a single father who visits his and others' lucid dreams to find clues to track down the kidnapper of his little boy who was spirited away three years ago.

For those unfamiliar with the meaning of the title, lucid dreaming is an elusive state in which you consciously know you are dreaming. Unlike a regular dream where there is no control over what you experience, a lucid dream offers you the possibility to control your surroundings.

On top of this interesting premise are A-listers Go Soo, Seol Kyung-gu and Kang Hye-jung, as well as singer-actor Park Yu-chun from popular K-pop boy band JYJ, as its main cast.

This image released by Next Entertainment World shows Go Soo in a scene from "Lucid Dream." (Yonhap)

At face value, with all these good ingredients, it could have been an engaging film, replete with drama, action and paternal love. Instead, it is a mediocre fare that makes for tedious viewing with a distinct lack of suspense. Even veteran actor Seol Kyung-gu -- who plays the police detective in charge of the case -- was underwhelming and lacking any emotional factor.

The film crumbles mainly because of its wholly predictable and loose plot. It also recycles parts of dramatic devices from Hollywood blockbuster "Inception," such as the possibility of characters being locked in someone's dreams and using others' dreams to resolve a case.

Dae-ho (Go) is a righteous and tenacious broadcast reporter who is often sued by conglomerates for unveiling their corruption. After his only son disappeared at an amusement park during a family outing, Dae-ho almost quits his job to gather information on his son's whereabouts, visiting people who might have grudge against him.

As the police are about to close the case that remains unsolved for three years, Dae-ho learns about the existence of a psychotherapy using lucid dreams. He visits So-hyeon (Kang), his childhood friend and a psychiatrist considered the nation's top authority in the field of researching lucid dreams to get help. He then goes back three years in his memory to the day when he lost his son and tries to find every clue that seems relevant to the abduction.

This image released by Next Entertainment World shows Go Soo (L) and Seol Kyung-gu in a scene from "Lucid Dream." (Yonhap)

The film moves back and forth between the dream world and the real one as Dae-ho desperately attempts to track down hid son's abductors. And because the audience has no other choice but to see exactly what Dae-hoo sees in his dreams, every hint about the kidnapping is exposed too early. This is why the film lacks its due suspense as a crime thriller. The people Dae-ho meets in the process of resolving the case kindly explain why they did what, lessening the fun of the story. There is a last-minute twist in the main plot, which can draw laughs from some viewers as it seems to force an ending.

The positive side is the visual effects used by rookie director Kim Joon-sung to portray the dream world, which are all very realistic.

The best thing about "Lucid Dream" is its lead actor Go's persuasive emotional performance as a father who is desperate to find his lost son.

JYJ member Park plays a mysterious young man called "This Man." The man in a black suit confuses Dae-ho by abruptly appearing in his lucid dreams and later in the real world. Encountered in the real world, he lets the protagonist know of "shared dreaming" and helps him collect decisive clues from others' dreams. Park's unconvincing performance and unbalanced tone of acting, however, often distracts the audience's attention from focusing on Dae-ho's struggle.

"Lucid Dream" is set to open in local theaters on Wednesday.

This image released by Next Entertainment World shows Kang Hye-jung in a scene from "Lucid Dream." (Yonhap)

sshim@yna.co.kr
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