A Company Man is about the driven-to-succeed Ji Hyeong-do (So Ji-sub). A man who's devoted his entire life to his company, and as it happens, his company's business is killing. Ostensibly Ji works for a company called NCM (New Continental Metals), but it's really a highly elaborate front for the company to carry out high profile assassinations. Ji has ascended the corporate ladder through hard work, skill, and diligence over the years, but a chance conversation with his trainee will cause Ji to question what it's all been for. The once ice cold killer starts to thaw out as he ponders if his life has been worth all the blood he's spilled on his way to the top.
I quite liked the visuals of A Company Man. It's a very slick and stylish movie. The camerawork, locations and framing is rather exceptionally done as well. However, the story of a killer who grows a conscience is an especially tired one, and so it wasn't a particularly interesting or intriguing movie to me. Had they given the characters slightly more time each, I think that would have made a big difference to how invested I felt in the movie, and it's not like the movie was running too long as it is. The actors showed a lot of promise, but they were given very little to do. I really wanted to see them do more, especially the supporting cast. When the plot is a fairly cookie cutter one like this (hitman going through an existential crisis) then you had better make sure that the characters are at least interesting ones, but this is A Company Man's biggest fault. The world building that went into this group of assassins was rather well done, I have to admit. It reminded a lot of "Wanted" and, to a lesser extent, "John Wick".
The emotional bond that developed between Ji and Yoo Mi-yeoh (Lee Mi-yeoh) was nice. Predictable, but nice. Nevertheless, a hitman trying to find redemption and a different, more peaceful life through a woman is about as banal as it gets. And you can probably guess how it all goes wrong for Ji, and how the plot will end up. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad movie, just a fairly predictable one. The action was sporadic, though it was extremely well done. Look out for the car shootout, it's fantastic. But I did notice that the editor was getting a little too choppy towards the end. For the most part A Company Man managed to maintain a sense of heightened realism, but during the end Ji was starting to suffer from the superman syndrome. I lost count of how many times Ji got shot. Admittedly Ji was wearing body armor, but you'd think in an entire floor of trained killers and assassins would go for his head, even instinctively.
Throughout A Company Man I couldn't help but thinking that it was an allegory for the corporations nowadays who might as well be killers. The only difference is this company's employee's carry weapons. NCM even has nice friendly company picnics and whatnot, just like most real company's do. I wonder if that was intentional or if I'm simply reading too much into it. It probably sounds like I didn't enjoy A Company Man very much by now, but I actually did, though I felt like it could have been an immensely better movie with a little tweaking here and there. That's probably why it seems like I'm coming down harder on it than my rating would indicate.
Written by - The Sentry - 27/02/2017