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11 A.M. - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2013

Sci-Fi, Thriller

Kim Hyeon-seok

Jeong Jae-yeong
Kim Ok-bin
Daniel Choi
Park Cheol-min
Sin Da-eun
Lee Dae-yeon
Lee Geon-joo
Kim Hyo-seo

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11 A.M.

Story: A group of scientists led by Woo-seok (Jung Jae-young) is building a time machine at a deep-sea laboratory. The extremely costly undertaking is financed by a Russian investor. However, Woo-seok and his team can't travel to the past since the laws of physics seem to make this impossible. In theory the scientists are also only able to travel one day into the future, but this theory hasn't been put to practice in a test, yet. For Woo-seok this test seems to be the only way to prevent losing his financial backers. Along with his colleague Young-eun (Kim Ok-bin) he takes a seat in a capsule that is supposed to send them into the future through an artificially created worm hole. When they arrive a scene of destruction is all that awaits them at the research facility. The power went out and there seems to have been an explosion. Then Woo-seok even gets attacked by an unknown individual. Since the scientists have only fifteen minutes to get back to their capsule and their own time Woo-seok gets the CCTV recordings. Back in their time Woo-seok and his team now have to find out what causes the explosion within the next 24 hours...

Review: Korea is having a hard time bringing out good science fiction flicks. "2009: Lost Memories" couldn't make use of its potential and let's not even discuss the tremendously boring "Yesterday". But: Sci-Fi stories are such a rare sight coming out of South Korea that I can't help but look forward in joy every time a new genre piece is announced. Yet, taking a closer look at "11 A.M." only a small fraction of the film is actually a sci-fi flick - the time travel plot doesn't leave any doubt about it after all -, but for most part this is a psychological thriller that illuminates the abyss of the human mind when it comes to escaping a seemingly inevitable demise. Surely a suspensefull affair, although it isn't really anything new and also can't conceal its flaws.

11 A.M. - Film Screenshot 11

Suspense is particularly easily created when making a few individuals work together for a while within a confined space. The cabin fever inevitably resulting from this forces tension to arise between each other and if, to make things even worse, you also know that you are most likely about to die within the next 24 hours this doesn't really help making anyone frolic. A well-tested premise for a thriller, but what about the sci-fi aspect after all? Well, there is a decent time travel plot. It's just that we already know too much too soon. Additionally, science fiction fans will see some of the plot twists miles in advance. Nevertheless, the different story parts fit together pretty neatly or rather the events on screen keep you busy enough not to give thought to some potential plot holes.

11 A.M. - Film Screenshot 12

But since we are already at it: If according to Hawking it isn't possible to travel to the past how can the scientists travel back to their time? If someone from the future would accompany the scientists in the capsule on their travel back through time he would in fact travel to the past! Anyway, that's not really what the story is about, so let's drop it. Instead it's the physical pressure concerning the knowledge of the future that makes the scientists jump at each other's throats one after the other, making you wonder whether taking a glance into the future didn't ultimately led to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Accordingly, you can in fact call "11 A.M." being fatalistic and with every accident happening hope dwindles away more, resulting in the scientists (re)acting even more unpredictable.

Fancy sci-fi ideas aren't at the story's core, but rather character-driven elements. Unfortunately, this is where one of the film's major weaknesses becomes apparent since the individual personalities aren't adequately fleshed out by the screenplay. Many of the scientists seem to be just predestined to bite the dust and the actual protagonists can't be convincing all throughout. Jeong Jae-yeong ("Plan Man", "Confession of Murder") even seems to be a miscast as his dry and wooden looking performance isn't suitable. And Daniel Choi ("The Traffickers") rather looks like having been taken out right from a boyband and can't pull it off to be taken serious as a physicist. Only Kim Ok-bin ("Thirst", "Dasepo Naughty Girls") arouses some interest in her character.

11 A.M. - Film Screenshot 13

Although there are several attempts to shift the focus to the interpersonal relationships this is nearly never accomplished. Director Kim Hyeon-seok has made a name for himself in the romantic comedy genre with movies like the well-achieved "Cyrano Agency". That's why it's even odder he chose this genre. The budget is convincing, but all in all the sets look too cold as does Kim's directing unfortunately. But an even greater issue is that he didn't write the screenplay himself. Thus, the drama slipped in at the end is rather annoying, dragging on and on, whereas the last line in the movie is completely unnecessary and illogical. There may be a lack of genuine ideas, but "11 A.M." is still somewhat of a sci-fi flick from Korea. And just as is the case with the aforementioned "2009: Lost Memories" this fact alone makes it hard not to remember it.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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