Unlocked (Netflix Film Review)

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The Intrigue of Netflix’s Unlocked

A Thriller Fueled by Smartphone Intrusion

Released under the Korean title “스마트폰을 떨어뜨렸을 뿐인데” and soon to be available on Netflix, “Unlocked” is a gripping thriller directed by Kim Tae-joon. This film, based on the Japanese novel of the same name by Akira Teshigawara, follows the story of Nami, played by Chun Woo-hee, who, one fateful night, drops her smartphone on a bus. Little did she know that the person who found it would turn out to be a serial killer named Jun-yeong, portrayed by Im Si-wan. Detective Ji-man, played by Kim Hee-won, jumps into action to chase down Jun-yeong and prevent him from committing another murder.

A Relatable Premise with a Modern Twist

The premise of “Unlocked” instantly resonates with viewers due to its focus on smartphones. In today’s digital age, our dependence on these devices is akin to a patient relying on a life-sustaining IV in an emergency room. Our phones hold our entire lives, from social calendars to personal photos. The idea of someone gaining access to our contacts, search history, and passwords is truly terrifying. This aspect of the film excels at building tension, showcasing how Jun-yeong effortlessly infiltrates and dismantles Nami’s life through her smartphone. The portrayal of this smartphone-driven danger serves as a stark reminder of how vulnerable we can be to modern technology.

Furthermore, the relatability of the protagonist, Nami, enhances the film’s connection with audiences. She is an ordinary individual without a complex backstory or grand ambitions. However, this lack of depth works harmoniously with the smartphone premise, emphasizing how easily anyone could find themselves in Nami’s dire situation. It is not Nami’s complexity that makes us care for her, but her relatability, making her plight all the more captivating and engaging.

Plot Holes and Immersion

While “Unlocked” manages to capture attention with its engaging premise and relatable characters, it stumbles in its execution, primarily due to the presence of plot holes. In a film that aims for realism within the thriller genre, these plot holes pose a significant challenge. In this genre, meticulousness is crucial, especially in providing logical reasons for the culprit to elude capture. Unfortunately, “Unlocked” falls short in this regard.

Around the 30-minute mark, Ji-man discovers the house of the killer, Jun-yeong, and gathers evidence. From that point on, immersion becomes challenging as one cannot help but question why Ji-man does not end the situation immediately. While the movie attempts to justify this through a character relationship Ji-man shares, it does not allocate enough time to explore the emotional elements involved. Consequently, the audience’s focus shifts to the logical inconsistencies, further affecting immersion.

Additionally, Jun-yeong’s illogical behavior compounds the issue. The killer does not make any effort to hide his face or avoid leaving fingerprints and other biological evidence at crime scenes. At one point, he even attacks a character without a mask, making the story’s progression increasingly perplexing. Such instances raise the question of why the story has not yet reached its conclusion.

That said, not all plot holes completely detract from the viewing experience. There is a confrontation past the halfway mark, where a disguise involving removing glasses and altering one’s hairstyle seems far-fetched. However, this unexpected turn pays off in the climax, catching viewers off guard.

The Potential and Missed Opportunities

“Unlocked” still manages to captivate with its stunning cinematography, brilliant acting, and the unsettling portrayal of the havoc that can be wreaked through a smartphone. It succeeds in making viewers contemplate the need to keep their devices close. However, it is disappointing that a few script adjustments could have elevated the film further, pushing audiences to firmly grasp their superglue instead of simply considering it.


In conclusion, “Unlocked” presents a thought-provoking and relatable premise while exploring the dangers of smartphone intrusion. Although the film’s execution suffers from plot holes that may hamper immersion, it still offers an engaging experience with its stellar cinematography and strong performances. As the line between technology and personal lives continues to blur, “Unlocked” serves as a cautionary tale, urging viewers to ensure their digital safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is “Unlocked” based on a true story?

No, “Unlocked” is a fictional thriller based on a Japanese novel.

2. When will “Unlocked” be available on Netflix?

“Unlocked” will be streaming globally on Netflix from February 17, 2023.

3. Can you watch “Unlocked” without prior knowledge of the novel it is based on?

Yes, the film stands on its own, and knowing the novel is not necessary to understand the story.

4. Are there any standout performances in “Unlocked”?

Chun Woo-hee delivers a compelling performance as the protagonist, Nami, capturing the feelings of vulnerability and fear remarkably well.

5. Does “Unlocked” offer any unexpected plot twists?

Yes, “Unlocked” surprises viewers with a clever twist that adds depth to the climax, taking the story in an unforeseen direction.