Sometimes there’s just not as much in the well as you’d have hoped…
Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula (which we’ll just call Peninsula from here on out) is a solid action flick that throws us back into that world with some interesting but not necessarily perfect results.
Peninsula takes place four years after the zombie outbreak in Train to Busan. Jung-seok, a soldier who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation with two simple objectives: retrieve and survive. When his team unexpectedly stumbles upon survivors, their lives will depend on whether the best—or worst—of human nature prevails in the direst of circumstances.
If you take Writer/Director Yeon Sang Ho and put him besides the works of a master zombie man like George A Romero it’s fair to say that Seoul Station is an equivalent to his Night of the Living Dead and Train To Busan is his Dawn of the Dead then Peninsula lines up pretty well as his Day Of The Dead commentary on the genuine lack of humanity in the face of the desperate and unknown.
Don’t get us wrong; Peninsula is a damn solid movie from top to bottom, but adding the Train To Busan Presents tag at the front of it isn’t actually doing it any favors to this film which is a solid action flick set in the post-Zombie Apocalypse of the Korean Peninsula, it’s just that the tonal shift while appropriate was also a little bit of a letdown.
That and too much of the movie was in a blue-black kind of hue taking place primarily at night. It all looks sexy but it made it hard to get invested in it from a visual standpoint. Make no mistake though, Yeon Sang Ho puts together some very solid action set pieces and has a narrative that we get emotionally invested in and care about.
The characters in this universe are all either holding on to, or push well past their boundaries of humanity and the struggle that these character go through, not just with avoiding zombies but with keeping a clear distinction of what is right and what is wrong is very real, especially in this hellscape. The rules you’d expect get thrown out the window as we get evocations of films like Mad Max & Escape From New York but it all needed to feel a little less muddy from the visual side of things for it to really resonate emotionally as the kind of film that will stand side by side those two classics of the dystopian action genre that were just mentioned.
The ensemble cast is solid but as is usually the case in films of this nature, we’re only supposed to get invested in the characters in the moment in their raw human emotion and desire to survive and nothing really more grandiose then that.
Ultimately, Peninsula is probably the perfect movie to get you to head back to the theatres in these times of Pandemic. It’s got just enough large scale action to keep you engaged on the big screen making sure that we get lost in the escapism of the moment in trying to survive the post apocalypse of the zombie outbreak but it’s a mild let down from Train To Busan.