Morality isn’t an issue that Hollywood has any grounds to lecture anyone about these days, so it isn’t much of a surprise when modern films really don’t have much of a story to tell about the issue of right or wrong.
It takes a strong man to make a difficult decision, it takes an even stronger man to deal with the fallout of his decisions. Sometimes life requires impossible choices but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to be okay with the decisions you make.
That leads us to our film ‘Decibel.’
At face value, the film is about a South Korean Navy officer dealing with a Madman that has littered the city with bombs that are triggered by noise level rather than an actual trigger. However, the story within the story is much deeper than that.
The story begins a year earlier, former naval deputy commander Kang Do-young is on a deep sea mission with 40 other Shipmates as they travel under a severe typhoon that is affecting Communications on a surface level. During their travels in the water, a forgotten homing mine activates and chases the ship throughout the floor of the ocean.
The crew manages to avoid the explosions but in the process loses their propeller leave hitting them stuck at the bottom of the ocean. With rescue 15 days away, the crew only had seven days of oxygen left before everyone on the ship will perish. Kang makes a decision that half the crew will be saved leaving the other crew to perish. Kang leaves the decision to random chance in order to avoid further conflict.
A year later, the South Korean military covered up the incident after discovering that the mine that doomed the crew actually belong to them. Kang has no choice but to return to civilian life knowing that he had to be a part of the cover-up. However, one of the surviving members of the ship Jeon Tae-seong, lost his brother and blames Kang for his brother’s death. Tae-seong has rigged multiple bombs throughout the city with explosives as a means to get back at Kang and he is the only person who can prevent further death.
The beautiful thing about this film is that it could have easily taken the route of being just another run-of-the-mill terrorist movie about a guy whose evil for the sake of being evil. But ‘Decibel’ is so much more than that, the film creates a multitude of character motivations based on one tragic event that is slowly reviewed throughout the course of the movie.
The deeper into the film you get, the more the character’s connection to the story makes sense which goes a long way in understanding their conflict. Our villain isn’t exactly a villain, but a man consumed with guilt over the fact that he couldn’t save his younger brother when he had the opportunity. On the flip side, our hero isn’t exactly a hero, but a man who has to live with his decision to condemn 22 people to death in order to save the other 22.
The selling point of the film is a Madman with a sound-activated bomb but the bomb is just a distraction from the real story. ‘Decibel’ is well written, the characters are well thought out, and the film hits you with a very emotional 3rd act that leaves you sympathizing with everyone involved leaving a lasting impression on you when you leave a theater.
‘Decibel’ without question is one of the best-crafted films of 2022 and deserves to be on the top of everyone’s best list in the next couple of weeks.