The Soul is a Netflix Original thriller. In the year 2031, the head of a Taiwanese tech company is murdered under strange circumstances. The case falls to Prosecutor Liang Wen-Chao, assisted by his wife, Officer Ah Bao, to uncover the truth. But this bizarre murder quickly unravels to become more than either could’ve expected and will question their concept of life, love, and death.
One of the core components of a good thriller is its ability to build and maintain an atmosphere. The weight, pressure, and anxiety that comes to permeate the characters’ existence must be ever-present and felt by the audience. Otherwise, the slower pacing that thrillers like this embrace leading up to the big reveal can lose an audience and become boring. The Soul mostly manages to navigate this danger well, as it delivers its uniquely intriguing narrative.
The Soul delivers a plot that never stops twisting and turning throughout the movie’s two-hour and ten-minute run time. I repeatedly thought the movie had revealed all it had to show, only to discover there was yet another layer to the movie’s plot to uncover.
There are a lot of interconnecting gears that turn this movie’s storyline. The circumstances surrounding the murder itself make for an interesting tale alone. But when coupled with the numerous side plots and personal stories that come to be drawn into the narrative, this tale culminates to a fantastically executed finale where virtually none of these plots are wasted—every plotline is utilized to enrich the movie’s ending by making everything in this film matter. But the area of The Soul’s multifaceted story that needs to be spoken about the most is the plight of Prosecutor Wenchao and his wife, Bao.
Early in the film, we learn two important details about the couple. First is the fact that Bao is pregnant. This normally happy news is tempered by the fact that Wen-Chao is dying of terminal cancer. The knowledge that he will not be there to see their child grow is a weight that plays on the couple throughout the movie.
While Wen-Chao has been on a leave of absence from the prosecutor’s office to undergo chemotherapy, he requests to be returned to service to cover the impending murder investigation. Tired of sitting around waiting to die, he wants to earn some more money for his family, as well as close one final case.
While Wen-Chao is reserved, actor Chen Chang delivers the character’s struggling emotional state in subtle ways that manage to preserve the stoic nature of Wen-Chao’s personality while never giving the misimpression of coldness. When Wen-Chao’s reservedness comes crashing down in a pivotal sequence in the movie, it hits all the harder thanks to the actor’s care in how he approaches the character.
Between the numerous plot twists, sub-plots, and emotional moments that fill this narrative, the longer than usual run time for this style of movie feels warranted, even though there are a few moments that feel slightly dragged out. This thriller is a psychological one through and through. No car chases or shoot-outs break up the story’s slow-burning plot. While this may turn off some viewers that will feel the story weighs itself down in some of its quieter moments, the ending that is constructed by all the moments that lead up to it is well worth the wait. Part of me looks back at The Soul wanting to pin down what piece of the story might have been clipped to quicken the movie’s pace, but I think everything here is necessary. Aside from the occasional camera shot that holds a moment a bit too long, there isn’t anything this narrative could trim.
The story’s placement a decade in the future is used wonderfully to give the movie a sleek visual design. Computer interfaces are enhanced beyond what we currently have, but not so much as to feel impossible for the near future. This aesthetic gives the movie a unique look it.
An easy-to-overlook star of The Soul is its excellent lighting. Many of the scenes within this narrative are captured with just the right angle, intensity, and hue of lighting. This imbued these moments with an extra layer of artistic flair I greatly appreciated.
When all is said and done, The Soul delivers a story that, while a little long in the tooth, manages to deliver an ending that brings all of its elements together in a way that makes every preceding scene meaningful. It surprised me with several of its twists and turns and left me feeling satisfied as the credits rolled.
The Soul is streaming now on Netflix.
The Soul delivers a story that, while a little long in the tooth, manages to deliver an ending that brings all of its elements together in a way that makes every preceding scene meaningful. It surprised me with several of its twists and turns and left me feeling satisfied as the credits rolled.