Movie review of “Operation Chromite”: Based on true events, this taut, mostly satisfying thriller tells the story of South Korean spies who helped Gen. Douglas MacArthur prepare to invade Incheon in 1950. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
The exciting if occasionally awkward South Korean production “Operation Chromite” draws attention to a crucial chapter in the Korean War: the United Nations’ amphibious invasion of Incheon in September 1950.
Under the command of U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels waged an assault that led to recapturing the South Korean capital of Seoul from the North Korean People’s Army. “Operation Chromite” (the original code name for the planned attack) tells an irresistible, true story about a handful of South Korean spies who gathered vital intelligence for MacArthur (Liam Neeson) about enemy defenses.
At the center of this fast-moving thriller — highlighted by street chases, shootouts and constant explosions — is Jang Hak-soo (action star Lee Jung-jae), an interesting figure whose tragic disillusionment with the People’s Army inspires him to lead the espionage mission.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Operation Chromite,’ with Liam Neeson, Lee Jung-jae, Lee Bum-soo. Directed by John H. Lee, from a screenplay by Lee Man-hee and Sean Dulake. 115 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In English and Korean, with English subtitles. Several theaters.
Posing, with his seven comrades, as a North Korean army unit inspecting plans to combat the United Nations, Jang ferrets out strategies while curbing the suspicions of a despicable general (Lee Bum-soo). Eventually, Jang’s team allies itself with an underground network of freedom fighters, leading to a stunning, climactic battle.
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Director John H. Lee keeps the action taut and often deeply felt when it comes to sacrifices and losses. But the script is often bogged down by deifying MacArthur (Neeson seems a little self-conscious in the larger-than-life role). More troublesome is the way we don’t get to know most of the heroic, doomed men in Jang’s group. The film would be richer for that personal depth.