Netflix’s Carter is an action thriller that follows the titular character after he wakes up with no memories of his past. All he has is a voice guiding him via an earpiece and a mission of rescuing a girl who is the cure for a deadly virus.
The film starts Joo Won in the lead and has been stitched together to make it feel like a one shot sequence.
The film opens with a group of CIA agents cornering Carter after he sends out a video with a missing man named Dr. Jung. The agents question him but he has no memory of his past.
It is revealed that Dr. Jung cured his daughter Jung Ha-na from the deadly virus that has spreading in North Korea and America. He was en route to a factory in the former country to mass produce an antidote but went missing.
Carter escapes from the CIA with the help of an explosion and the woman in his ear assists him to acquire weapons and gear as he takes down his pursuers.
Initially he is told that he is the one behind the mission. He was a South Korean who was working for the CIA but shifted to North Korea, disguised as a journalist.
There he fell in love with a woman who was assigned to spy on him and had a daughter with her — who is also infected with the virus. Meanwhile, the CIA presents him with another fragment of his past as their agent Michael Bane.
He is confirmed to be Bane via a DNA test but the agency still wants to eliminate him as he’s gone rogue. Carter rescues the girl and intends to make sure the antidote is create as he simultaneously tries to learn the truth of his life and identity.
Carter is a one man show throughout. Joo Won carries the whole plot on his shoulders as the entire narrative focuses on elaborate action sequences.
He is believable as the amnesiac Carter who is on the hunt for his identity. Apart from the ruthlessness, we see a certain soft side to him as well when he interacts with Ha-na. Joo Won rises to the occasion to maintain a balance between his two drastically polarising sides.
Lee-Sung-jae plays the antagonistic General Kim Jong-hyuk and doesn’t stand out. His character is extremely two dimensional and has nothing to offer except exposition alongside evil intentions and actions.
Kim Bo-min stars as Ha-na and she is a great complimentary character to Carter. Although one can’t say much about her acting chops, her innocent presence in the plot adds a layer of urgency which is a welcome addition.
Unfortunately, it is quite hard to pinpoint positives things about Carter as it decides to put wonky action above all else. here are instances when the one-shot narrative style really shines and presents some breathtaking fight sequences.
In fact, the film houses some of the best fighting chase sequences you have ever seen.
It is ambitious in its action set pieces. We witness ruthless gun and fist fighting in malls, small rooms, motorcycles, air planes, helicopters, trains, cars and more.
It is quite an adrenalin rush before it becomes tiring.
Carter starts off well with its unique editing style but soon transforms into a shaky cam headache. The action sequences, albeit well intended, are painful to keep up with. It almost feels like an exhausting exercise for your eyes.
The one-shot style had a lot of potential if it wasn’t devalued by a lack of attention to detail. The scenes have been stitched together with a lot of imperfection which is visible.
The so-called hidden cuts are not hidden at all and it cheapens the style of the film. Many transitions are obvious as sometimes the lighting between two shots does not match.
What adds to Carter’s woes is its really ordinary CGI. It might be due to budget constraints but the janky effects are an eye sore.
Furthermore, the film has so much well-shot action (which isn’t well edited) that it really forgets to develop its plots or characters. What little of the story is there, the high-octane fights make it almost impossible to follow it.
To be fair, Carter does have moments of stillness as a few characters exchange some valuable dialogue, but it doesn’t linger long enough to be appreciated.
If you’re a die hard fan of all out action films, Carter will provide you with some never-seen-before sequences. It does deliver occasionally on its unique style but mostly turns out to be a poorly edited mess that can really give you a headache.