There is a scene just before the halfway point in Time To Hunt, Yoon Sung-hyun’s latest heist horror, that signals a seismic shift in the film’s rulebook. While not necessarily a twist by virtue of the title and genre, Jun-seok’s (Lee Je-hoon) devastating moment of revelation as the thriller’s highest stakes are revealed is precisely lit and underscored with music just on the right side of schlocky. Its craftsmanship is inch-perfect, but the key ingredient that defines this moment is the unique unsettling terror of personal technology – and when the person on the other side is not who is expected.

Time to Hunt continually defies expectations by virtue of how far it pushes its premise from its relatively genial roots, elevating both blood pressure and viewer satisfaction in the process. Set in a near-future dystopian South Korea, Jun-seok reunites with his buddies and celebrates freedom – until he realises that the robbery that put him away has been rendered meaningless by recent inflation. They then plan an even more audacious heist, which leads to consequences beyond their imaginations.

While the antics become increasingly outrageous, dangerous, and occasionally hilarious, the three central performances are endearing and human enough to keep audiences firmly invested in their fates – and consequently anxious throughout the 135-minute run time. The shootouts, while relying more on firepower than finesse, never allow us to lose focus of their personalities – a feat in a film this expansive.

The only weakness of Time to Hunt is that it is half an hour too long, losing some goodwill and momentum in the final act. That said, the last five minutes leave a sequel on the table, and this dystopian Pacific has not exhausted its opportunities for edge-of-seat thrills. If next festival season brings a second installment, it will be eagerly awaited.



CAST: Lee Je-hoon, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Woo-shik, Park Jeong-min, Park Hae-soo

DIRECTOR: Yoon Sung-hyun

WRITER: Yoon Sung-hyun

SYNOPSIS: After three years in prison, a young man and his friends plan to finance their escape to Hawaii with one final heist – and the consequences are more than they reckoned for.