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Time Renegades - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2016

Thriller, Drama, Romance

Kwak Jae-yong

Jo Jeong-seok
Im Soo-jeong
Lee Jin-wook
Jeong Jin-yeong
Lee Ki-woo
On Joo-wan

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Time Renegades

Time Renegades - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Ji-hwan (Jo Jeong-seok) is a young teacher and together with his colleague Yoon-jeong (Im Soo-jeong). The couple is happy together and celebrates the year 1983 when Ji-hwan is stabbed during a robbery. Exactly 32 years later in the year 2015 young Detective Geon-woo (Lee Jin-wook) is badly injured during an assignment. The two men have to be reanimated and since that day they are connected via their dreams. Although Ji-hwan knows through Geon-woo that Yoon-jeong is about to die he can't prevent the murder from happening. He is devastated and Geon-woo investigates the old case since the real murder has never been found and a new one is killing according to the same modus operandi. Wearing a gas mask the killer intoxicates his victims with smoke and then slits their throat. The case gets even more mysterious when the detective sees female teacher So-eun, who is the spitting image of the killed teacher. Geon-woo continues his investigation and thus tries to give the teacher in the past the necessary puzzle pieces to prevent other killings. In fact, the two manage to alter Geon-woo's present, but they still haven't seized the killer.

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Time Renegades - Film Screenshot 4

Review: "Time Renegades" is less science fiction than you would assume and rather presents itself as a dark thriller, which nonetheless hints at also wanting to be a romantic movie. Even though you probably might overlook this at first, the ending leaves no doubt about it, eventually. Does this genre-mix pay off? Yes, in a way it works fine. Instead, there are problems to be located in other places. Naturally in the story as well. The plot is interesting in the beginning and has the potential for some interesting thought experiments and seemingly smart entanglements. However, as is usually the case with time-traveling movies the concept of cause and effect is everything but taken serious. This leads to logic falling by the wayside so that the movie strictly speaking doesn't make any sense.

Time Renegades - Film Screenshot 5

Let's talk some more about this aspect and take a look at what happens when events are altered in the past. Of course, this has an impact on the future. Not only is the detective aware of the altered as well as unaltered past, a fact that is illogical, but common practice in the medium of film, other characters apparently are aware of two possible realities at the same time, too. In other words it's not just that one time paradox comes after the next in rapid succession, "Time Renegades" is also simply completely illogical. And this although there are so many interesting possibilities by toying with the timelines. After all, the teacher knows about the future. In parts, this is even tried, but it's merely done at the surface. All in all, this makes the story also a bit amateurish despite numerous entanglements. It simply lacks the final touches or at least someone proof-reading it.

Time Renegades - Film Screenshot 6

Tha amateurish aspect also comes to the foreground in other places. Some scenes are captured rather heavy-handedly and this is particularly odd since the film's director is none other than Kwak Jae-yong, the man who brought us the rom-com hit "My Sassy Girl". His last good movie (therefore not counting the Chinese flick "Meet Miss Anxiety") was "Cyborg Girl" from eight years ago and you can't deny that the director's skills seem somewhat rusted. Or maybe it's because the humor is lacking, which would have given certain scenes the wink that normally would make us overlook certain flaws in his movies. Yet, "Time Renegades" takes itself absolutely serious at all times. This becomes especially apparent in the dark color palette at display, which typical for a thriller consists of cold shades of blue.

Time Renegades - Film Screenshot 7

Contrasing this we have the scenes in the past, which at times are standing out with warm colors and a lot of sunshine. The love story is nice, but not extraordinary. You at least can warm up to the individuals a bit, yet you will be surprised in the end how much the movie wants to be regarded as a love story. But that's ok. What's not that well accomplished is the acting, since almost all of the actors are doing a rather mediocre job and thus once again bring something amateur-like into the movie. Lee Jin-wook ("The Target") can't always convince, also because of the story in the future not being that well written, and because of that he is responsible for some of the not that well-accomplished scenes alongside Im Soo-jeong ("I'm a Cyborg but that's ok"). Particularly from Im you are normally used to see a better performance.

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Time Renegades - Film Screenshot 10

The most convincing actor is Jo Jeong-seok ("My Annoying Brother) and he is also the one who brings some more drama into the movie and thus also makes us more interested in the story. Furthermore, we are constantly led up the garden path until a twist clarifies things. This would be fine and well if the plot holes weren't so glaring. That people are erased from pictures in a sort of homage to "Back to the Future" is ok, but that many details just happen to fall into place perfectly deprives the movie of any credibility. And despite its gritty mood "Time Renegades" isn't bloody at all. It seems as if the filmmakers desperately tried to refrain from showing anything resembling violence, but most viewers will be put into a reconciliatory mood because of the drama and the love story towards the end, even the more since it doesn't look as much out of place as you would assume.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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