THE SHORT VERDICT:
Quite smartly written, but not quite so smartly paced, The Technicians might feel underwhelming for those looking for a zippy, jaunty caper movie.
Despite its relatively slow set-up and its consequently somewhat sluggish feel, though, Show boasts a cohesive narrative with heart, and it doesn’t even ever get too melodramatic while going about it either.
Add on a cast of likable main characters and a good dose of pretty (Woob! On my screen! Eee!!), and The Technicians is still a solidly entertaining watch.
THE LONG VERDICT:
With my big Woob love, you guys knew that I would check out The Technicians as soon I could get my eager little hands on it, right?
The Technicians, Criminal Designer, The Con Artists – this movie went through enough name changes to make it all a bit confusing, and maybe even make the film itself a little hard to hunt down. Still, to mangle Shakespeare a little (or a lot, depending on where you’re coming from), this movie by any other name doth stay as appealing – as long as it serves me fresh Woob on my screen. 😉
So here’s the bottom line, in a nutshell.
I liked it.. but I would’ve liked it more, if the movie had done a couple of things slightly differently.
IN A HYPOTHETICAL DO-OVER, WHAT WOULD I WANT SHOW TO CHANGE?
1. A faster, tighter pace.
For a movie touted as a fun caper, this show actually felt quite slow, overall.
Perhaps it’s the dissonance between the expectations brought about by the fast-paced trailer, versus the actual, slower film experience that’s to blame. I just kept waiting for it to speed up from a laid-back trot to a thrilling sprint, and it hardly did, although it did have a couple of better moments.
The pace wasn’t terrible, but I do think that tightening everything up, and moving things along a little faster, would’ve made this a more rousing watch.
2. A more concise narrative.
One thing that would’ve definitely helped to tighten up that pace, is a less indulgent, more succinct approach to the storytelling.
I liked that Show made efforts to set a solid context around our characters, and bothered to give our characters some backstory. I also think some of that could’ve been shaved down in order to get us to the main arena of our story faster and more efficiently.
3. A deeper sense of the relationships.
If Show had a chance to do it over, I’d want a stronger sense of the heart behind the relationships.
For one thing, I’d like to delve a little deeper into the bromantic bond between Ji Hyuk (Kim Woo Bin), Koo In (Ko Chang Seok) and Jong Bae (Lee Hyun Woo) – as a group, and in every possible permutation, as pairs. The glue that bonds them together, and keeps them together, is something that I’d definitely like to have more insight into.
I also think this would’ve given our actors more room to shine. To be honest, even though I know that Woob dedicates himself deeply to every role, I found his capacity for emotional depth and resonance largely underused in this role. The same goes for Lee Hyun Woo, whose potential for emotionally-rich delivery also went mostly untapped.
For another, I’d prefer to have a more definitive loveline, or none at all. As it stands, the interactions between Ji Hyuk and Eun Ha (Jo Yoon Hee) occasionally hinted at something that leaned more romantic, but without a strong context to support it, I found myself unable to buy what Show kinda-sorta-sometimes appeared to be selling.
STUFF I LIKED
1. Story knows where it’s going.
For all its slightly sluggish pacing, this movie’s narrative always knew where it was going, and the deeper we got into the story, the more this showed. On top of that, it even served up some nice twists, which I thought were quite well done.
I especially appreciate the fact that on hindsight, more than a few scenes that had appeared throwaway, turned out to not be so random after all. I like that kind of well-mapped out, well-thought-out narrative.
2. The point of the story is grounded in heart, but doesn’t get too melo.
While The Thieves (2012) fared better than The Technicians in terms of its fun capery pacing in its first half, it’s The Technicians that does better, in terms of having a more cohesive tone throughout, and consistently keeping that tone from dipping into overly melodramatic territory.
I liked that in The Technicians, heart is built into Ji Hyuk’s motivations, which gave us a nice added layer of depth, without getting too melo about it.
3. Our main cast is likable.
Despite what I feel were missed opportunities in terms of giving our main cast room to shine, all 3 of our main “technicians” were likable.
Kim Woo Bin delivers nicely as our resident smirky, devil-may-care smarty-pants:
Lee Hyun Woo is likable and cute as our hacker maknae:
And Ko Chang Seok is lovable and often amusing, as our hapless and oh-so-loyal Ahjusshi engineer.
4. Im Joo Hwan is surprisingly badass.
Considering that Im Joo Hwan’s role is that of a relatively minor supporting character, the amount of quiet badassery he brought to the screen was a pleasant surprise indeed.
Strong, mostly silent, and yet impressively kickass, he reminded me of Kim Nam Gil’s role in Lovers (2007), where Kim Nam Gil played the strong silent right-hand man to Lee Seo Jin’s hot swoony gangster chief (Ahh.. memories).
Here’s a little bit more of that fierceness, just coz I think Im Joo Hwan looks cool.
5. Woob is Pretty.
Of course you guys knew this section was coming. You know me too well. 😉
Yes, I much prefer Woob’s hair in that movie poster up above (swoon, spazz, rinse, repeat), but I cannot deny that there was still lots of very agreeable Pretty to be had. My eyes; they did not complain.
So how could I pass up a chance to showcase the Woob Pretty, when Show served it up so readily, right?
Here, for the record, are some of the choicest, prettiest screenshots of Woob in the movie. And yes, that includes That Shower Scene.
While I don’t think that The Technicians quite lived up to its pre-release hype, it’s still a reasonably solid watch, in spite of its long (116 minutes!) running time.
And for the record, that’s not just because Woob’s in it either. 😉
THE FINAL VERDICT:
More mellow than jaunty, but still a solid, reasonably satisfying ride.
FINAL GRADE: B