Monday, 24 April 2017

The Belko Experiment (2017)

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An experiment not worth your time

Director: Greg McLean
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Starring: John Gallagher Jr, Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Josh Brener, Michael Rooker

Hollywood is full of past projects getting a big push, thanks to the names attached. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation was re-cut and released after leads RenĂ©e Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey became major stars, and Serena capitalised on the star power of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. After crafting critical and financial gold from obscure Marvel characters, it makes sense for a past script by James Gunn to finally get adapted. Initially written prior to directing 2010's Super, the script sat on the shelf for a while. Sadly, based on the end result, perhaps a better option would've been chucking it in the bin.

The film opens on a typical day, cycling through multiple characters to show who actually works in this corporation. Each are given a one line description (unrequited love, new starter, maintenance workers, etc), while a reason to care for their fates never materialises. The steel shutters seal the employees inside, while a voice on the intercom instructs them to kill two of their number, or else more will be killed at random. Disregarding the announcement as a prank, four employees all of a sudden die, causing by their tracers exploding. The voice next instructs to kill thirty of them within two hours, or sixty will die.

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Mike just couldn't scratch that itch
It's clear what's being attempting here, to deliver Battle Royale within an office block, but it only achieves this on a superficial level. It carries none of the satire, wit and entertainment which can be mined from such a scenario, it's merely a drawn out attempt to rack up a body count. Most unforgivably, it wastes any potential for delivering inventive kills. Considering its setting, director Greg McLean resorts to the bog standard kills with guns, knives and axes a bit too quickly. Granted, one moment with a sellotape dispenser does hold some promise, but it comes too little too late.

The closest thing we have to a lead character is Mike, portrayed by John Gallagher Jr. Such a shame he's so bland, merely defined by his chemistry free romance for an uninteresting co-worker. The rest of the cast fail to make an impact, with even the reliable presence of character actors John C. McGinley and Michael Rooker wasted on nothing characters. Sorely missing is an outright antagonist, who takes advantage of the scenario to fulfil their twisted deeds. While there are some villainous faces, none carry the interest or the threat level of a Kiriyama, or a Mitsuko.

By the time it reaches the end, one can't help but feel the former 88 minutes were a complete waste of time. Lacking in imagination as much as wit and characters worth caring about, The Belko Experiment is a dull excuse to deliver a body count.

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