The Belko Experiment Review
The Purge. Battle Royale. The Running Man. All of these films share a similar vein with William Golding’s 1954 novel “The Lord of the Flies,” and these pieces of content comments on just how fragile society is and how quickly it can fall apart. James Gunn brings in the next installment of this post-apocalyptic genre film with The Belko Experiment. Does Gunn’s story provide a somber commentary on society or does the film fall into the realm of a mindless splatterfest?
Unlike the films mentioned before, there isn’t much social commentary to be found in the film. Yet Gunn and Greg McLean provide a bloody and suspenseful film where no character is safe from death.
The Belko Experiment follows the employees of Belko Industries, who are locked in their Colombian corporate office and forced to kill each other by any means necessary.
It’s true that much of The Belko Experiment can be attributed to Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, but instead of kids, we have corporate workers killing each other. Even though it’s a concept that we’ve seen before plenty of times before, it never seems to get old. Unlike Royale, screenwriter James Gunn infuses the film with a bit of his dark humor into the film. His script is intelligent and incredibly witty. However, as clever as the dialogue is, it doesn’t mean that the characters are fully developed. Sure, there are a ton of characters but even the main characters are stereotypical and one-dimensional. Audiences won’t get attached to any of the characters because the film doesn’t give you a reason to.
It is incredibly fun seeing them kill each other, though. Director Greg McLean delivers on the over-the-top mayhem and is able to balance its large cast. However, there are several scenes throughout the film where the film lulls you to sleep and the gonzo violence doesn’t always work. The use of operatic music as the violence ensues in very cliché and the climax leaves much to be desired.
Much of the fun in the film is showcased by the fun that the cast clearly had in making the film. Top of the list is the brutal John C. McGinley whose dastardly actions bring much of the terror to the screen. He’s doing it all while McGinley shows off his trademark devilish grin. Sean Gunn brings out the most laughs in the film. It’s clear that Gunn wrote the best and funniest lines for his brother. Even with their small roles, Michael Rooker, David Dastmalchian, and Melonie Diaz provide solid performances to the film.
Yet as big as the cast is The Belko Experiment primarily revolves around three central characters. Tony Goldwyn is very good as the primary antagonist in the film. Goldwyn has one of the most satisfying turns in the entire film as he does a complete 180 turn when he goes from a warm and sweet CEO to a conniving and evil person. It’s one of the juiciest roles in the film. Goldwyn’s adversary is the mild-mannered John Gallagher Jr. who provides a strong performance as Mike Milch. He conveys a humanistic strength in his character that’s needed especially when the world is crumbling around him. Adria Arjona gives a sparky performance as Leandra. She may be the protagonist’s love interest but she isn’t a damsel-in-distress. Like Gallagher Jr., she conveys a sense of confidence and strength to her character. Unfortunately, the chemistry between the two actors is a bit lacking.
Overall, The Belko Experiment is an intense, bloody thrill ride bolstered by the fun performances of its cast. Even though its social commentary and character development are underwhelming, it doesn’t diminish the fun and energy of the film. It’s essentially Battle Royale for a new generation. Be glad that your office isn’t as bad as this.
Rating: 3/5 atoms