NYAFF 2011: Troubleshooter Review
Private investigator Kang Tae-sik (Sol Kyung-gu) is an earnest single parent, busting hump to provide for his cutely precocious daughter, a loving tech-addicted cherub who mocks, as he fumblingly tries to connect. But that's enough exposition, using the 'wrong-man' conceit as energetic vehicle this conspiratorial jaunt gets rolling almost immediately. A mark is picked, a call goes out, and we're on our way. The set-up, a wrong-place wrong-time affair of pornographic tomfoolery turning investigator suspect as the police charge the building. The pace ramps, the conspiracy thickens and the patented Michael Bay revolving shots begin.
Playing the relatable, upstanding everyman whose troubles prove just-another-day-at-the-office, Sol Kyung-gu excels, treating each new wrinkle with a deft, winking outburst. Sidekicked by a wheel-chaired, crack-shot hacker (Park Yeong-seo), and equipped with the latest and greatest in movie-magic push-button technology, the detective duo prove eternally capable of navigating the seemingly traditional nature of political espionage.
Parallel, at the police station: corrupt cops and headless chickens run amuck in an attempt to catch up to our hero and downright figure out what the fuck is going on here. In a brilliant riff on the man-cops-are-dumb routine, a team of officers lead by Choi Sang-cheol (Dal-su Oh) engage in a perpetual act of smart cop / dumb cop; the chief poking and mocking his forever incompetent submissives, while intelligently moving the investigation forward, there's a mystery that needs unraveling no doubt.
As the conspiracy distends it gradually loses its composure, revealing too much too early and quickly falling into superfluity. Thankfully, the action and hero's plight form a stable emotional core, standing outside the attenuated tangent of 'mission complete' which ultimately proves less important than kinship.
A spirited first effort from director Kwon Hyeok-Jae, Troubleshooter packs frenetic thrills and goofy shenanigans into a thoroughly entertaining wrong-guy P.I. picture.
Troubleshooter screens at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade theater on: