Project Silence (Cannes 2023) Movie Review – Predictable action film with familiar faces

Project silence
Predictable action film with familiar faces

Kim Tae-gon’s action film Project Silence got a chance to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2023 in the out of competition section. Korean cinephiles flocked to see it as it promised stars like Lee Sun-kyun, Ju Ji-hoon, Park Ju-hyun and child star Kim Su-an amongst other familiar faces. A little out of place amongst heavyweights showcasing their new films at the esteemed film festival, Project Silence will not disappoint if viewers take it for what it is, a simple and straightforward action film with adrenaline-filled fight and chase sequences.

Deputy Director Jung-won played by Lee Sun-kyun is a cutthroat politician whose only aim is to help his superior, Chung win the election at the expense of others. His overtly selfish nature has created a rift between him and his daughter who would rather study in USA after her mother passes away. Following them to the airport is the gas station employee Park whose seedy behaviour puts him at odds with Jung-won. Golf champion Yura, her manager and an elderly couple all seem to keep bumping into each other as well as they all have to take the same bridge connecting the city and the airport.

At the same time, Dr Yang makes his way out of Seoul to dispose his failed experiments. However, a heavy fog suddenly surrounds the area causing a pile-up as visibility is hampered and several cars crash into each other. Stuck on the bridge, our heroes believe they simply need to wait for the fog to lift or for cops to come rescue them. But unbeknownst to them, the army accompanying Yang and his experiments know that time is of the essence.

The failed experiments they need to discard are mutated dogs, trained to identify a target by their voice and keep attacking till they are dead. With the pile-up messing up Yang’s plan, the dogs escape. To make matters worse, one of the dogs, Echo 9 is freed of her chip that controls her. As they start picking off the pile-up survivors one by one, Jung-won and the rest team up to try and escape.

In a survivor movie, viewers know that the popular actors’ characters are the ones to keep an eye on and the same goes for Project Silence. We also can’t help but draw comparisons with Train To Busan purely because an emotional father-daughter duo is once again shown here with the exact same child star. Kim Su-an, however, is deserving of that title as she is always a delight to watch despite mostly getting the sulky kid role in the likes of Train to Busan, Poong The Joseon Psychiatrist and Project Silence.

But the remarkable transformation that catches eyes is that of Ju Ji-hoon who has recently been making waves as the stoic and heroic Crown Prince in Netflix’s zombie show Kingdom. As the con-artist Park in Project Silence, he keeps things light and entertaining with his punchlines that occasionally tend to land. He becomes the comic relief in an otherwise dreary and predictable story.

The moment we get an ensemble cast in such a thriller, viewers already know that half of them are dying. The Echo dogs also seems like a copy of the Planet of the Apes sequels, ganging up against their oppressors. However, Project Silence is still a fun, simple movie with a fast-paced structure as the action keeps going. It has the interactive experience that makes thrillers fun as it will have you screaming at your screen, trying to warn the survivors from making the wrong decision. Drop all expectations you may have had due to its privilege of getting a Cannes premiere and you may actually enjoy this technically well-made film for it’s action and thrilling experience but no real substance.

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  • Verdict - 5/10

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