19 April 2017 | coreyjdenford
Battle Royale in an office, meh.
This review of The Belo Experiment is spoiler free
BEFORE HE CLEANED his writing for the family-friendly blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy (both volumes), writer-director James Gunn conducted the script to The Belko Experiment. A horror slasher/whodunit thriller. Both forming the two sides of Gunn, however before he had blockbusting scripture he was known as a horror writer, writing and directing the dark, Slither, and the uncompromisingly silly Super. This perhaps brought influence to Zack Snyder for Watchmen. For this Gunn left the directing to Wolf Creek's Greg McLean, making this a winning combination between writer and director and for a while at least it succeeds.
Plot wise, it's The Hunger Games franchise meets The Purge, happily there are few things this has in common with them, merciless rules, a time limit to kill and intriguing characterization. Not only does the company but also the title of the film itself screams government, a huge of security, a locked gate and a tall building a mile from civilization. There's a menacing company boss (Tony Goldwyn), who will do anything to keep his workers calm but when it comes to it he sacrifices others. And just on the outside in an abandoned hanger there is a team of tight-knit killers who have clever gadgets, with buttons and names of the employees and an unknown voice announcing a game of kill or be killed, the most satisfying part; there a whole bunch of people that are killed from micro chipped bombs.
Theoretically the exploding head technique works for a while, it's stunning to look at (in a merciless way) but after a while it becomes monotonous, painting rooms with blood and skull remnants all over the floor. There are changes in the killing strategy that come slightly too late though in some cases later is better, here that works when players are used as cannon fodder, perhaps leading the film to a predictable end but it's thrilling all the same. On the other hand Gunn is a wonderful writer, his screenplay is clever, has some silly moments but that's what made his blockbuster good, because it had silly moments. There is a bunch of that here, while for most of the time it stays mostly serious, implementing a balanced screenplay.
Even though practically everything you see here has been done before, the merciless killings and the player panic The Belko Experiment is a surprisingly enjoyable thriller with a lot of polished cred (the writer and the director), the style and the solid performances.
VERDICT: A brutally, bloody Battle Royale that gives tension, style and a lot of cred. That glides along nicely through, until a disappointing dip in the second half. Still, there are plenty of positive points, the brutal violence, the polished style and the solid performances to enjoy.