The South Korean Netflix thriller starring Chun Woo-hee, Yim Si-wan and Kim Hee-won falls short due to a lack of character depth
Last Updated: 01.33 PM, Feb 18, 2023
Story: Based on Akira Teshigawara's novel of the same name and adapted from the Japanese film Stolen Identity, Unlocked is a Netflix thriller centered around a smartphone-obsessed Na-Mi (Chun Woo-hee). After losing her phone and having it returned to her with spyware installed, Na-Mi's life is turned upside down as she and everyone close to her becomes at the mercy of a dangerous stranger, Jun Yeong (Yim Si-wa).
Review: The premise of Unlocked is quite predictable, and while the film tries to heighten the thrill factor towards the end, it fails to be effective due to the lack of character exploration. The audience never gets to know the characters well enough, leading to a lack of emotional connection with them. Na-Mi is a very average victim with an incredibly thin personal connection to her stalker that only develops after her phone is stolen. Her life is not particularly interesting or intricate, so when it is upended, the drama falls flat until the stakes become potentially lethal at the very end of the film.
The stalker, Jun Yeong, has no true motive for his crimes, making his presence in the film feel disjointed and unexplained. He's a psychopath, a liar, and a decent hacker, but overall, his character does not meet the level of escalation in his offenses.
Despite its flaws, Unlocked does make a clear argument about the dangers of technology, presenting a detailed case study about all that can go wrong when our devices are used against us. The message is clear: you are always being watched, and Unlocked is almost a cautionary tale in a dystopian reality.
In terms of performances, Chun Woo-hee does a decent job as Na-Mi, but her character is not fleshed out enough to make her a compelling protagonist. Yim Si-wan as Jun Yeong and Kim Hee-won as police officer Ji Man deliver decent performances, but again, the lack of character exploration and development detracts from the film's overall impact.
Verdict: Unlocked is an average thriller that fails to engage due to its predictable storyline, lack of character exploration, and disjointed villain. While it does make a strong argument about the dangers of technology, it's not enough to save the film from being forgettable.