REVIEW: 'Exit' is both heart-stopping and heart-warming

Wong Jia Min
(Photo: Golden Village)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an Asian person who is single and unemployed must necessarily put up with a bevy of nosy, nagging family members. And so is the case in Exit for Yong-Nam (Jo Jung-suk), a young man who likes rock-climbing and has big dreams.

Unfortunately, Yong-Nam finds himself both without a job or girlfriend after graduation, a fact which his mother Hyeon-ok (Go Doo-shim) reminds him of constantly. In fact, even when Yong-Nam organises a 70th birthday celebration for his mother, he is soon beset upon by relative after relative mentioning these facts ad infinitum.

Thankfully, he spots his old crush, Eui-Ju (Im Yoon-a), working at the restaurant, and takes the opportunity to try and reconnect with her. But just as they start catching up, an explosion happens mere blocks away from the restaurant, enshrouding an entire district with a mysterious white gas that is fatal to anyone exposed to it for too long. Now Yong-Nam has to use his rock-climbing skills to make sure Eui-Ju and his family make it out alive.

(Photo: Golden Village)

Yong-Nam is a character that will be familiar to many in the audience. He’s a little lost and unsure of his next step in life, but he is essentially a filial, loving son who cares a lot for his family. The situation he finds himself in will bring back many a flashback to endless family gatherings and wedding dinners too for the audience, as he cycles his way through an neverending line of relatives all asking him about what he’s doing with his life now.

But when crisis strikes, Yong-Nam rises to the occasion and literally claws his way to the top (of buildings), using nothing but his wits and everyday objects to scale walls and figure out a path to safety for his family.

Eui-Ju plays her part as well and is particularly resourceful when finding supplies that they can make use of during their escape. Their rock-climbing hobby is one that their families don’t quite get, but proves to be useful as it equips them with survival techniques that help get everyone out of danger.

(Photo: Golden Village)

If you’re scared of heights, you might want to give this movie a miss. Be prepared for some nail-bitingly suspenseful scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat, as well as some death-defying stunts that are the product of desperation and a strong survival instinct.

That said, the performances from the cast were quite one-note, with many one-dimensional characters. The only ones who really shine in their roles are the two leads, Jo Jung-suk and Im Yoon-a, though their chemistry as love interests is a little lacking.

Nevertheless, this movie will make you laugh, gasp in surprise, and breathe sighs of relief as Yong-Nam and Eui-Ju try to make sense of the concrete jungle they are faced with.

Score: 3/5 stars

Exit opens in cinemas 5 September, 2019 (Singapore).