If any of you have seen previous work from Mr. James Gunn, you’ll know that he has a penchant for violence, particularly violence with a dark, sadistic, humorous twist.
In between writing Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, and the short Dolphinman battles the Sex Lobsters, he found time to write The Belko Experiment, or more likely it finally got green-lit.
The premise of The Belko Experiment is about as straightforward as it gets. 80 foreign-nationals, mostly Americans, are locked in their office building in Bogota, Columbia.
One day a voice strains over the previously-unused intercom and informs them they are now involved in a game of kill, or be killed. Let the fun begin.
Our main man is Mike Milch, John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane, Hush), a man who believes they shouldn’t have to do as this disembodied voice tells them.
However, they are left with no choice as ‘they’, or ‘he’, has a way of killing the employees whether they like it or not.
This prompts the senior management team, comprising John C. McGinley (Scrubs (TV), Se7en), Owain Yeoman (The Mentalist (TV), American Sniper), Benjamin Byron Davis (Somewhere Show) and led by COO Tony Goldwyn (Ghost, Divergent) to arm themselves and begin the fight.
There’s a wide variety of characters, we don’t get to know all 80, most of whom don’t really do much fighting, but plenty of dying.
As you know you are watching a film about death and murder, you sort of want them to get on with it. The movie is only 1.5 hours and, whilst it’s not long before the first people die, it’s a slow burn.
In fact, it never really kicks into gear. The whole movie feels off-pace, slow and struggles to get going.
Even when it’s off and running, you’re not on the edge of your seat or feel like you need a breather. It’s all a bit, well, safe. Like we’re being told there’s a violent bit coming soon, watch out, here it comes, there-now, wasn’t so bad was it, oh, another one.
I hate to say it, but if it wasn’t for the cast, and probably the writer, I could well see this movie as having been one of those ones on the SyFy Channel with actors you’ve never heard of or haven’t seen in years.
Director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek, The Darkness) doesn’t exactly set the world on fire either. He could have done a lot to bring pace and urgency to the movie but doesn’t, quite the opposite.
The Belko Experiment is some disappointment, particularly if you’ve seen Gunn’s other films like Super and Slither, but then, this is the guy who also wrote both Scooby-Doo movies.
My advice if you want a film like this? Stick with the classics and watch Battle Royale.