“Carter” has been written and directed by Byung-Gil Jung and co-written by Byeong-sik Jung. Joo Won plays the protagonist, Carter, in the film. He opens his eyes and finds himself in an alien place, unable to comprehend what is happening to him. He has to not only save his own life, but his actions would determine whether hundreds of people live or die. So let’s see if he is able to process the information, find out who he is, and save the lives of people from the wrath of a deadly virus.
‘Carter’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
People were getting infected by a deadly virus, the symptoms of which were surfacing in the human body in merely 5 minutes. Those who were infected showed abnormal and enhanced physical abilities. They were turning into something like zombies, the only difference being that they were more agile and more powerful than ever. The United States had been affected by the soldiers who returned after serving in Korea. A huge chunk of the population of North Korea was also affected by the virus. South Korea, on the other hand, was declared a virus-free zone by the World Health Organization. It was called the DMZ virus, as it originated in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Dr. Jung Byeong-ho had an important role to play in this whole chaos. He had been missing for almost 19 days, with his daughter, Jung Ha-na. Dr. Jung had cured his daughter of the virus, and doctors and researchers from all over the world wanted to know how he did that. Dr. Jung was headed to the Sinuiju Chemical Weapons Institute to mass produce the antibody so that the people in North Korea could be saved. But now, with him missing, the North Koreans were suspecting that the South had a role to play in it.
The CIA had obtained a video of a naked man standing beside Dr. Jung. He gave them an address and claimed that Dr. Jung was still with him. The CIA agents reached the location, but the man didn’t remember anything. He had no clue when he had sent the video. Adding to the mystery, the man was clueless about who he was. There was a puddle of blood in the room that led to a cupboard. There was the sound of a ringtone coming from inside the cupboard. He picks up the phone where an anonymous caller tells him that his name is “Carter” and then asks him to hand it over to the CIA agent standing behind him. As soon as the man gave the phone to the agent, it exploded, killing her. The man was told to escape the building as the anonymous caller was going to blast it too. She told him that a device had been implanted inside his ear, and that was how he could hear her voice. The man jumped from that building to the adjacent one. He still couldn’t figure out what was happening to him. The adjacent building was probably a spa/bathhouse, and there were a lot of men who started staring at him. They attacked him, but somehow he managed to handle them all by himself. It made him realize that he was no ordinary person, because only a trained professional could have such skills. The voice in his ear was constantly guiding him, as she had access to security camera footage and could also detect heat signatures within a radius of 50 meters. She tells him to go inside the car that was approaching to get more information. He meets Choi Yu-jin in the car, who works for the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in South Korea. The woman talking in his ear was Han Jung Hee, working for the International Liaison Department in North Korea. She said that they were working with South Korea to create an antidote for the DMZ virus. Han Jung Hee tells him that they had secured ample amounts of anthrax vaccines so that Dr. Jung could carry out his research and development process without any hassle. But Ha-na was kidnapped, and they knew that an agent from A9, a secret organization linked to the CIA, was behind it.
The mission given to Carter was to find and bring Ha-na to North Korea. One more revelation is made by Jung Hee that totally shocks Carter. The mission had been proposed by Carter himself, who had told them to block his memory. He doesn’t understand why he would do so. Jung Hee tells him that he used to be a CIA agent from South Korea. He camouflaged his identity and entered North Korea as a journalist. He was a celebrated soldier in the South, but the North Korean government suspected him of being an American spy. They wanted to keep a close eye on him, so they planted a woman and told her to get intel about him. But Carter and this North Korean spy fell in love and eventually got married. Han Jung Hee tells him that his wife died due to the virus, but his daughter, Yoon Hee, though infected by it, was still alive. She was kept in the research facility at the Sinuiju Chemical Weapons Institute. The mission was simple. He had to save Ha-na, so that her blood could be used to make an antidote and ultimately given to her daughter and others like her to cure their infection.
Is Carter Able To Take Ha-Na To North Korea? Who was Michael Bane?
Ha-na was held in a building heavily guarded by the CIA. Han Jung Hee tells Carter that most infected people die within 13 days. His daughter had been infected for 13 days now, and if they were unable to create an antidote that very day, then she would also succumb to the virus. He knew that the stakes were high. Carter kills the CIA agent and reaches the room where Ha-na had been held by them. He makes her talk to her dad, Dr. Jung, who was with the North Koreans in the research facility. Her dad tells her to trust Carter. They were just about to escape the facility when a group of CIA agents got the better of them. The officer in charge, named Smith, comes and tells him about the intel they had gathered on him. Carter Lee was born in 1986 in South Korea and immigrated to New York when he was 11.
Carter had become a naturalized citizen of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. The agent wasn’t able to understand where Carter’s allegiance lay. Was he working for the North or the South? It was still a mystery. Smith tells him that the virus is a pre-planned initiative of the South Korean government, but Carter has his doubts. He feels that the United States government is the one who wants to use the situation to its benefit. Just then, Agnes, one of the CIA agents, came and told Smith that the movements of Carter matched those of a former CIA agent known as Michael Bane. But as per records, Michael Bane had been killed in Syria, though no one had actually seen his remains. Smith notices that BD-7, a kind of microdevice, has been planted at the back of Carter’s neck. It was used to erase the memory of a person.
The CIA had a theory that Michale Bane had undergone plastic surgery and taken the identity of Carter. The DNA tests were going to come out, and only then could it be ascertained whether there was any truth to the hypothesis. Han Jung Hee intentionally redirects the signal to Carter’s molars so that the CIA can catch it. The molar was a kind of explosive device, and as soon as the CIA took the teeth out of his mouth, it exploded. Carter, once again, is able to escape. He received a message from Agnes, the CIA agent who told him that his real name was Michael Bane, though the DNA tests were still not out. While Han Jung Hee tells him to go inside the car that was waiting for him, Agnes tells him to take the bus if he wants to know more about his real identity. Carter takes the bus and meets Agnes. She tells him to trust her if he wants to survive. Before she could say anything more, she was shot at. She tells him to run before the CIA gets to him. Carter gets off the bus with Ha-na, but bikers, clad in black, arrive and take her from him. A violent chase begins where both Carter and the multiple bikers try to fight for the most prized possession, i.e., Ha-na. He hears the voice of someone, probably Agnes, in one of the earpieces worn by the CIA bikers.
The lab result had come. He was, in reality, Michael Bane, but the United States agency didn’t care now. He had gone rogue, and they had got their reason to kill him. Carter killed everyone who came in between his mission and safely reached the facility of the National Intelligence Service, where he met Kim Dong-Gyu, the director of North Korean relations at NIS. They finally boarded the plane that was going to take them to North Korea. But the danger still lurked around them; only it had camouflaged itself. Ri Cheol Ju, the doctor on the plane, took Ha-na and was trying to escape. Carter tracks him down and they enter into a scuffle. Director Kim arrives at the scene, shoots at Ri Cheol and asks him if he is working for the leader of the North Korean coup. This was a new angle that Carter came to know just then. The leader of the coup was probably the orchestrator of this whole facade. But Ri Cheol says that he works for the United States. He kills Director Kim and then manages to throw Carter out of the plane. He then goes up and tells the other South and North Koreans that he had killed Kim as he was a CIA agent. Before he could say anything else, the officials realized that some people had been infected on the airplane, and before they knew it, they started killing everybody else. Seizing the opportunity, Ri Cheol jumped from the plane with Ha-na. But Carter was still alive. He was holding onto the plan till now. He also jumped behind Ri Cheol and caught hold of him while still midway in the air. He snatched the parachute of Ri Cheol and landed alive with Ha-na. Carter killed all the other soldiers who came his way and miraculously reached the North Korean border, defying all the odds.
Ending Explained: Did Carter Lee Get His Memory Back? Who Was The Leader Of The North Korean Coup?
Carter met Kim Jong Hyeok, the Lieutenant General, and Han Jung Hee, the woman who was speaking on the device implanted in his ear. Carter’s mission was now complete, and as promised by the North Korean government, his memory was to be given back to him once Ha-na was in their possession. But Kim Jong Hyeok had other plans. He was the leader of the coup in North Korea. He knew that he could use the situation to his advantage. He backstabbed the North Korean government and wanted to have some leverage over the South Korean and the United States regimes. He doesn’t give Carter his memory back and orders his men to kill him. Han Jung Hee, the voice in Carter’s ear, was the North Korean spy, who was told to keep an eye on him when he came to the country as a journalist. Han Jung Hee was his wife, and she had not died as told to him earlier. Jung Hee pleads with Kim Jong Hyeok to spare the life of Carter and let them leave the country, as it was decided earlier. But Kim Jong Hyeok’s ruthless ambitions of ruling the country and creating a new world where he was the uncrowned emperor were not deterred.
Carter, once again, is able to defy death and escape by killing all the North Korean soldiers. One of them had got a call from Kim Jong, who ordered to keep Carter alive, though he was unaware that Carter had already killed everybody there and was coming for him. He reaches the Sinuiju Chemical Factory, stands at a distance, and looks at Kim Jong through his sniper lens. He calls Hang Jung Hee and asks her to keep her phone on speaker so that he can hear what they were talking about. Kim Jong had told his soldiers to wait and not kill Carter until he instructed them, because he wanted to lure Han Jung Hee to side with him. He was giving her an offer to save Carter and her daughter, in return for her allegiance to him. Kim Jong Hyeok wasn’t going to let them leave as there was a threat that they would tell everything to the United States government, and then the world would know about his secret plan, and everybody would look at him with utter disregard and disrespect. Also, if Carter, the man who saved North Korea from the wrath of the virus, stood with Kim Hyeok’s government, the people would look up to his leadership. But Han Jung Hee doesn’t agree, and Kim Hyeok points a gun at her. Carter shoots with his sniper but misses the mark. Without wasting any time, he takes off from the cliff in his car and enters the chemical factory.
Carter and Han Jung Hee find their daughter and take her to Dr. Jung Byeong-ho, inside the facility, who gives her an antidote immediately. Carter and Han Jung Hee, Yoon Hee, Dr. Jung and Ha-na escape the facility and run to save their life. Dr. Jung opens his stitches on the back of his neck, and puts a device to bring all his memories back. He remembers everything all of a sudden. He was trying to escape North Korea with Han Jung Hee and his daughter when Kim Hyeok came with the forces and stopped him midway. Carter knew that there was no escape from that situation. The North Korean government would probably let him go, but they would never let one of their own, i.e. Han Jung Hee, leave them. So Carter gives them an offer. He tells them if they would agree to release his wife and his daughter, then he would get Ha-na from the CIA’s captivity and bring her back to North Korea. Kim Jong Hyeok agrees but infects the daughter, Yoon Hee, so that Carter does not play any tricks with them. Now that he had fulfilled his end of the promise, Kim Jong had changed his mind.
Kim Jong Hyeok’s men catch hold of them. Carter takes Yoon Hee and Ha-na with him while Han Jung Hee and Dr. Jung try to stop the forces. Once again, Carter kills hundreds of soldiers and Kim Jong Hyeok too. He saves his family and also Dr. Jung and his daughter, Ha-na. Together they got on a train, which had the infected people on it, and was going to Dandong in China. They thought that they had put an end to their horrors, but it was not so. A surprise awaited them at the very next step.
What Was The Mid-Credit Scene? Will There Be A Sequel?
Yoon Hee woke up as the antidote had worked. But just when they thought that everything would be alright, the bridge on which their train was passing exploded and broke into fragments. Kim Jong Hyeok also said something earlier that pointed towards the fact that a lot might be still unknown. His words created doubt within Carter. He asked Carter how can be so sure that the memories that have come back are not somebody else’s? This statement puts everybody under suspicion. Carter couldn’t trust anybody, not even Han Jung Hee and Dr. Jung. The explosion on the bridge could be the doing of anybody, i.e., the CIA, the North Koreans, or the South Koreans. Maybe Kim Jong Hyeok wasn’t the leader of the coup, and there was somebody operating from the shadows, whose identity was still unknown. Carter would have to trust his instincts and take a leap of faith whenever required, because his brain, his memories, and everything that he thought to be his reality was nothing but a fabricated truth. He would have to find more details about his life when he used to be Michael Bane, as there would be many clues hidden there too. He would have to gather more details about Agnes, the only CIA agent who wanted to save him, considering she shared an intimate relationship with him back in the day. She also says that she knows him better than Han Jung Hee, which, if true, would raise a lot of questions with regards to the intent and motive of his so-called wife. We still don’t have enough details about why he turned rogue, left the CIA, and decided to be an undercover agent in North Korea. The sequel will probably explore the mysteries and conspiracies further.
The South Korean action film might have a story to tell, but the extremely appalling execution of the one-shot trick makes it look not only gimmicky but, at times, incredibly ridiculous. If you have a lot of time on your hands, I would suggest sitting idle would be more productive instead of giving this film a watch.