• 25 Mar - 31 Mar, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

When the fight between good and evil is a race against time in a thriller, it's bound to be adrenaline-pumping and edge-of-your-seat. Especially if the execution is flawless. In-ho Hwang and co-writer Jin-hoon Lee begin their story with a ticking time bomb, but gradually lead us to the crux, which is bound by a deeply emotional fabric. Decibel is a long film that takes its time to unfold and gradually reveal the reasoning behind its characters' actions. And, in thrillers, this is always a tricky business because it runs the risk of making the screenplay drag.

In this case, the narrative moves at a steady pace, but there will be times when it will put your patience to the test. This is purely due to the producers' attempt to spread out the more tense and nail-biting situations while filling in more characters and plotlines in between. Director In-ho Hwang spends a significant amount of time setting the stage for the big reveal, which is well worth the wait. A more precise and crisp edit, as well as a tighter script, would have greatly aided the film.

Kim Rae-won steals the show in terms of performance. His portrayal of Commander Kang Do-steely Young's resolve and vulnerability is spot on. In tense situations, Jung Sang-Hoon plays the goofy reporter Oh Dae-Oh, who provides good support and comic relief. Lee Jong-Suk shines in his brief appearance as the resentful Captain Jeong Tae-Seong. The rest of the cast does an excellent job.

Decibel works primarily because of its suspenseful premise, which allows for plenty of action and adventure. It's not groundbreaking or shocking, but it's made interesting by a layered, non-linear narrative and a powerful climax. While the overall execution and production values fall short of the script's ambitious scale, the film's emotional fabric compensates. Ultimately, Decibel is a solid human interest story about the sacrifices of the boys in uniform rather than bombs.