Since its inception, technology has been a helping hand in our lives. Through its subsequent development, it has opened up several possibilities that are not always pleasant. One of these unpleasant aspects is the invasion of cyber safety. Written and directed by Kim Tae-joon, ‘Unlocked’ is a Korean crime mystery thriller that revolves around the same aspect. It is based on a Japanese novel of the same name written by Akira Teshigawara.
The film tells the story of a young girl whose life turns upside down when she suddenly loses her phone. A man takes it and makes her life a living hell. This one accidental loss creates a severe impact on her personal and professional life.
If you happen to find this premise intriguing and want to learn what happens in the film, please keep reading. But do remember that there are spoilers ahead!
Unlocked (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
Who steals Na Mi’s phone?
Na Mi (Woo-hee Chun) has a flourishing social life on her social media handles. She works as a photographer and enjoys her life in both the real and the virtual world. One night, while going back home on a bus, she mistakenly drops her phone. Soon after, a guy picks it up and takes it with him. She is, however, so inebriated that she has no recollection of the incident.
The next morning, her friend finds her in the same drunken state. Before meeting her, a girl had already notified her about finding Na Mi’s phone the night before. Once Na Mi gets sober, she calls this girl to retrieve it. She asks her to bring her to the café, where she helps out her father. Little did she know that the girl who has her phone is, in fact, a guy playing voice recordings to trick her into believing it.
Later in the café, Na Mi gets a call from this girl saying that Na Mi’s phone is damaged, and she has given it for repair. Based on the address she receives, Na Mi reaches a ramshackle building to enter a mobile repair store. She meets this guy wearing a face mask and a cap so that his identity won’t be revealed. He gives Na Mi a form to fill up to get back her phone. It also includes her mobile security password.
During the repair work, this guy, who we get to know as Jun Yeong (Si-wan Yim), adds spyware to Na Mi’s phone. Once she takes it back, he can see her through it all the time. So, he traces her every single move while she is oblivious to being spied on. Through her phone’s camera, he surveils her daily routine – where she goes, who she meets, and the place she works. He also gets access to all her conversations and her texts. Later at night, when she goes to sleep, he notes down several additional details from her life that are incredibly personal.
Later, Na Mi learns about a sudden update on an account that she keeps anonymous. During the night, she posted a photo with a colleague in which she verbally abuses her coworkers. While it destroys her professional life, it also reveals Na Mi as the person who controls it. Right after getting a big promotion, she gets fired because of this incident.
Meanwhile, Jun Yeong’s father, police detective Ji Man (Kim Hee-won), stumbles upon a gruesome murder case. Victims’ bodies are left without any way to find the culprit’s fingerprints and identity. But Ji Man notices that these bodies are buried near the plum tree that he had planted with his son, which he was fond of. Sensing his son’s possible connection to the murder, he traces down his location through his text interactions with his wife.
Upon reaching that place, Ji-Man finds enough evidence to implicate his son in the murders. So, he stays in the vicinity to gather video evidence of Jun Yeong’s involvement in the crime. However, he senses his father’s presence and decides to tease and scare him away. Jun Yeong leaves his apartment and keeps sending Ji Man photos of him clicked from a distance. While those photos creep out the detective, Jun Yeong uses that time of evading to destroy the evidence from his apartment.
Meanwhile, he keeps appearing in Na Mi’s life in one way or other. He arrives at her café and charms her by asking for a plum juice that her father had kept out of the menu. Later, he meets again with an excuse to buy a music CD from her and shares his visiting card with her during that transaction. Through these interactions, he familiarizes himself so that she won’t suspect him as the creepy stalker.
Later, Jun Yeong comes across to help Na Mi to know who hacked her phone. He elaborates on how the spyware would have worked, and gullible Na Mi believes him without a doubt. He also makes her suspect her close friend as the only possible culprit. While she is under his spell, her father finds his behavior odd and warns her about it. However, she does not pay much attention to his concern.
Meanwhile, Ji-Man and his associate detective go to Jun Yeong’s mobile repair store to investigate. They find the store in terrible condition, with papers and devices thrown all over the room. That’s when Na Mi arrives there to repair her phone since she smashed it out of anger. They share the details about the case and join hands to find Jun Yeong.
After Na Mi gets in touch with Jun Yeong, he comes to her apartment. Ji-Man and his associate stay outside the building to get hold of him. Ji-Man only assumes this killer to be his son, aka Jun Yeong. But after catching him and seeing him in person, Ji-Man starts doubting whether that is his son or not. They also hadn’t been in touch with each other for years, which makes him unsure about Jun Yeong’s appearance (Ji-Man’s doubt is cleared in the end). After the killer evades an arrest, the detectives meet Na Mi and decide on a further plan to trace Ji Man’s location. She goes back to her father’s bungalow upon their advice for her safety.
Na Mi sees her father deep asleep and decides not to disturb him. But soon after, she finds that her father’s not in bed and starts looking for him around the house. That’s when she finds Jun Yeong waiting for her in their hall, who is angry at her for ruining his plans. So, he takes her to the bathroom and ties her up. Her father is tied to the bathtub, which is nearly full of water. But he doesn’t let her breathe a sigh of relief. He beats her unconscious and leaves her on the floor.
Unlocked (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Ending Explained:
Who is the creepy killer? What connection does he have to the past murders?
After keeping Na Mi locked with her father, Jun Yeong comes back to the hall and finds a note saying, ‘No texts, only calls.’ He suspects the police being onto him and looks outside to affirm his suspicion. Ji-Man soon enters the house with his associate and starts beating the creepy culprit. However, he still cannot recognize this person as his son. But the culprit keeps saying that he is Jun Yeong.
So, Ji-Man goes through the scattered notes around him, where this psychopath had jolted down details related to the murders he committed. He goes to number zero, which says Jun Yeong’s name. That’s when Ji-Man realizes that this person is not his son but the one who killed him. Jun Yeong was his first victim, and he kept elaborate details related to him so that he could pose as Jun Yeong.
That realization emotionally shatters Ji-Man, who points his gun at this now-nameless psychopath. By that time, Na Mi gains consciousness, retrieves another detective’s gun, and goes out to the hall. Due to the boiling anger inside her, she goes on to shoot him to death.
Because of his death, she is relieved that she can live her life without worry. However, while enjoying her free time with her father, she notices someone pointing a camera at her. After all the investigation to trace down the culprit, the writers chose to end the script on this ambiguous note. More than anything, it hints at the omnipresent danger that keeps following her. Going back to its central theme of cyber security, it doubles down on how the risk of privacy invasion never ends.