Starring: Go Soo, Sol Kyung-gu, Kang Hye-jung
Director: Kim Joon-sung
Running Time: 101 mins
Lucid Dream is a South Korean film about a father who, after his young son is kidnapped at a theme park, seeks the help of groundbreaking new science that allows him to return to the moment of the crime in his own dreams and search for new clues.
This film was a real shame for me, simply because it starts so strongly with a mysterious and intriguing premise, and then loses it all when it goes for a more generic, action-oriented plot that doesn’t really make any sense. Despite a strong central performance from Go Soo that holds the film together, Lucid Dream doesn’t live up to a potentially emotional and riveting watch as it grows weaker and weaker as it goes on.
But let’s start with the positives, most of which are centred in the film’s first act. The great thing about the opening act in Lucid Dream is the fact that you do get a good degree of emotion, character development and intrigue right from the start. Go Soo does an excellent job at showing his character’s protectiveness over and love for his son, and then his extreme devastation following the kidnapping.
What’s more is that there’s nothing particularly melodramatic about the first act. Apart from a few blindingly obvious hints, the film keeps its cool early on with a composed and as a result emotionally affecting depiction of the kidnapping, setting the film up to be an impressive, intimate and calm story throughout.
However, the problems start to come thick and fast when everything goes a bit sci-fi. Now, I don’t have any problem with introducing this sort of space-age technology into a contemporary setting, it’s something that films like Inception do very well, but the issue here is the fact that the technology is introduced so abruptly, without enough emphasis placed on its importance in the scientific and crime-solving worlds, that it feels like a completely random and out-of-place addition to the world that the film is set in.
Another problem is that the ability to jump into these lucid dreams just seems way too easy. While the mystery isn’t immediately solvable, the fact that our main character, as well as a few random other people, just manage to pick up the technology and run with it faultlessly means it’s not at all compelling as a plot device.
In Inception, the characters wrestle hard with the dream machines from start to finish, even those that are most experienced with the technology, and that makes for an emotionally riveting and very deep watch right up to the end, whereas in Lucid Dream, the seemingly incredible ability to return to past memories and find clues to solve a mystery is really glossed over, and it has absolutely no impact on the emotional core of the story.
And that’s unfortunately where the film’s biggest problem comes in. As impressively intimate as the opening act was, and as much as Go Soo tries hard to keep the film on that level, Lucid Dream completely loses its deep emotions by the second and third acts, turning into something so much more generic, and so much less interesting.
The action sequences that arise aren’t all that spectacular either. There’s no compensation for the loss of intrigue with exciting action, and what we get are some very generic, dull-looking and averagely-directed action sequences that are far too loud for the good of the story at hand, and certainly don’t offer anything in the form of popcorn entertainment.
As a result, Lucid Dream becomes stuck in a painful limbo between its effective emotional core and mindless and dull action. On top of the fact that it often feels way too much like an Inception remake, it doesn’t really take enough time to delve into some of the more potentially interesting elements of its story, and despite its strong start, things get poorer throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 7.0 overall.