Emergency Declaration Review: Im Siwan’s stirring portrayal makes way for Kim Nam Gil & Lee Byung Hun’s flight
‘Parasite’ star Song Kang Ho plays detective.
‘Emergency Declaration’ is the latest thriller from South Korea finding its way to a cinema-deprived crowd. A mid-air gamble of a virus stricken in-flight passengers versus the authorities on the ground who seem to be none the wiser about a new pathogen that they have to be suddenly dealing with. ‘Emergency Declaration’ deploys a star-studded lineup in the form of Song Kang Ho (‘Parasite’), Kim Nam Gil (‘The Fiery Priest’), Lee Byung Hun (‘Squid Game’), Jeon Do Yeon (‘Secret Sunshine’) and Im Siwan (‘Run On’). Seol In Ah (‘Business Proposal’), Park Hae Joon (‘The World of the Married’), and Kim So Jin (‘Escape from Mogadishu’) take up significant roles.
The movie begins with the onboarding of the passengers on the KI501 flight from Seoul to Honolulu. Among the chatter, a mysterious man named Ryu Jin Seok who wishes to know about the most crowded flight, played by Im Siwan, gets through- eventually creating havoc. Detective In Ho (Song Kang Ho) whose wife Hye Yoon (Woo Mi Hwa) is also on the same flight is the on-ground miracle worker. On figuring out that the lives of over 150 people, including her wife, are in danger, he charges ahead with a surprisingly very helpful set of authorities to find a way.
Ryu Jin Seok acts as the villain by releasing a deadly virus on the flying airplane and dies soon after giving no cure or cause for his actions. Soon, Lee Byung Hun’s character Jae Hyeok is revealed to be an infamous pilot who previously caused the death of Kim Nam Gil’s character Hyun Soo’s wife. Jae Hyeok is given two options, to fly the plane by getting over his fear or giving in to it. One hurdle crossed, US and Japan aviation systems are given solid nods with arguably acceptable CGI and a brief appearance, not delving much into the whys and hows.
Just when you start feeling that the movie has one too many coincidences, a life and death situation presents itself. Experiencing severe protests from Korean nationals the passengers unanimously decide to take the high road and not land, all while In Ho proceeds to inject himself with the virus, desperate to test out the cure. A heroic landing by Jae Hyeok preceded by an assuring heart-to-heart with Hyun Soo may be the last straw of unimaginable occurrences that the movie somehow manages to pull off.
It’s a sure shot thumbs-up in terms of visuals and building tension but falls through to give any apt reasoning to many of its incidents, not adding much for character depth. An unceremonious death of its main “villain” seems all the more confusing when you consider the grand scheme of events. While ‘Emergency Declaration’ pulls you in for a curious ticket purchase, you may leave feeling slightly unsure.
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