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The Netflix South Korean import has plenty of kicks.
Sometimes you have to take a chance on the movie about a guy who drinks magic spring water and becomes a telekinetic superhero.
Yeon Sang-ho’s Psychokinesis is a pretty goofy movie. I mean that as a pejorative and compliment. It’s silly in ways that will charm you. But for every laugh, you’ll find a moment that makes you roll your eyes—with a title like Psychokinesis, the movie’s unevenness is what you’re signing up for.
The man with the powers is Seok-heon, played by Ryu Seung-ryong. He’s a security guard at a bank and everything about him screams “ho hum.” He uses his powers to help his estranged daughter Roo-mi. She runs a popular but struggling hot dog stand, and a generically villainous construction company is trying to run her off. Whenever the construction cronies pop up, Seok-heon is there to clumsily take care of business. The movie falls into an episodic rhythm, which is agreeable for awhile. But that can only take you so far.
The story, written by Sang-ho, lacks tension so there is a flatness to everything. Compounding things is the story’s tone. Whenever the action cranks up the movie skews toward silliness. Sang-ho’s camera is fluid, weaving, panning, and swooping around the well-choreographed action scenes. It’s entertaining, but the tones don’t blend together as well as they do in many other South Korean action movies. (Jang-Hang-jun’s Forgotten, which premiered this year on Netflix, is a dizzying thriller that doesn’t waste a second.)
Compared to other Netflix South Korean joints like Lucid Dream, Psychokinesis is a disappointment. There is a definite sense that this story could have been turned into something better. But, grading on the Netflix curve, it’s not a dud. The movie moves quickly and Seok-heon and Roo-mi are a likable father-daughter duo. You’ll be amused, but can probably do better.
Upon exiting David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch, Nelson Muntz said: “I can think of at least two things wrong with that title.” Upon finishing Psychokinesis my complaint isn’t as harsh. There is plenty of kinesis in the movie but not nearly enough psycho.
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Eddie Strait is a member of the Austin Film Critic Association. His reviews focus primarily on streaming entertainment, with an emphasis on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other on-demand services.