The Korea Herald


[Herald Review] Lee Sun-kyun’s presence lights up ‘Project Silence’

Audience can’t help but root for late Lee’s character in posthumous blockbuster

By Kim Da-sol

Published : July 10, 2024 - 14:23

    • Link copied

Lee Sun-kyun (left) plays national security officer Jung-won in “Project Silence.” (CJENM) Lee Sun-kyun (left) plays national security officer Jung-won in “Project Silence.” (CJENM)

Stranded on a collapsed bridge shrouded in thick fog, a father and daughter on their way to the airport, an older couple returning from a trip, two sisters who missed a flight and a tow truck driver come together to escape the catastrophic scene.

But it is not the 100-car pileup or helicopter crash that happened right in front of them that are threatening their lives. It is a dozen military dogs implanted with bot chips that were mistakenly released from a transport truck on the bridge.

“Project Silence” garnered attention last year when it was invited to the 76th Cannes Film Festival in the “Midnight Screening” section, which shows genre films with both critical and commercial appeal.

A year later, the movie is slated to open at local theaters on July 12 – this time, receiving more attention as a posthumous work of late actor Lee Sun-kyun.

Lee, with his strong presence throughout the film’s 96 minutes, leads the overall plot as national security officer Jung-won. The father-daughter chemistry between Lee and actor Kim Su-an (“Train to Busan,” “The Battleship Island”) is well-delivered, as the two learn to communicate with each other after reminiscing about Jung-won’s wife having passed away.

The movie follows the cliched story development of typical disaster flicks that feature the appearance of a villain or mutual enemy and where the characters overcome hardship together as a community. Where the movie stands out, however, is the stellar computer graphics and visual effects.

Some 18.5 billion won ($13.4 million) went into devising realistic action sequences. Scenes including a pileup involving some 100 cars, the crash of a helicopter hitting the bridge and the attack of military dogs sprinting towards human targets are rendered realistic on the screen, thanks to Dexter Studio, which is known for its VFX sophistication in “Space Sweepers” (2021).

However, that does not mean that director Kim Tae-gon and his production staff had actors act in front of a blue screen. Instead, they built a gigantic set with an asphalt road to shoot the scenes that take place on the bridge. Some 300 trucks filled with props were used on the set, the director said, allowing them to set up an immersive background so that the audience can experience and enjoy the thrills shown on the screen.

Lee Sun-kyun plays national security officer Jung-won in “Project Silence.” (CJENM) Lee Sun-kyun plays national security officer Jung-won in “Project Silence.” (CJENM)

If nothing else, late Lee’s presence makes this movie worth watching.

The movie delivers the message that a family’s love wins over human selfishness in a catastrophic situation.

Lee’s stable, convincing acting of coldhearted and decisive father Jung-won is something not forceful or powerful, but it still resonates deeply with the audience, especially in the last scene, where, looking up at a sunny blue sky, he quietly and peacefully grins.

Because we have now lost Lee, the audience is on Jung-won’s side throughout the movie: All we can do is root for him, spurred on by the longing and grief that he is no longer with us.