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The Spy Gone North tries to be suspenseful and moody but ends up as a muddled, slow-paced oddity that will have anyone not well-versed in the Korean schism scratching their head.

On the surface The Spy Gone North is an intriguing Korean thriller in the vein of a John Le Carré novel, with a conflicted protagonist who is recruited by South-Korea's intelligence service to ascertain whether the North has gained nuclear capability. And if that was what the film had focused on, an excellent thriller might have been the result.

The main flaw of The Spy Gone North is however that the picture never follows through on its initial premise. Large parts of the picture are spent on inconsequential details while the third act quite suddenly layers on another moral quagmire that has very little to do with the nuclear plot.

Compounding problems is the pace of the film. The movie moves fast where it should give the characters room to breathe and slow when pulses should be racing, making for an odd viewing experience.

Perhaps for someone well versed in the Korean conflict the picture makes a lot more sense, but for general audiences The Spy Gone North - despite ace production values and some good acting - is a bit of a tedious non-event.

release: 2018

director: Yong-bin Yoon

starring: Hwang Jung-min, Lee Sung-min, Cho jin-woong, Ju Ji-Hoon


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