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Movie Review: “The Belko Experiment”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 3/17/2017

Theatrical Release: 3/17/2017

Synopsis

Mike (John Gallagher Jr.) begins his day as any other. He has a mundane job at Belko Industries, an American company located in Bogota, Columbia. The local area is not safe, so Belko Industries is equipped with an intense defense system, and employees are chipped for their safety. In the event of a lockdown, no one can get in or out of the building. Unfortunately, this security system will shortly become a living hell for Mike and his fellow coworkers.

In a twisted social experiment, an unknown terrorist group takes over the building’s security system, locks down the building, and forces the employees inside to play a sinister game of life and death. The employees are given specific rules, but essentially have to kill each other or they themselves will be killed. If they choose not to participate, the chips inside their bodies will be used against them, a threat that forces civilized men and women into a survival of the fittest scenario. Lines will be crossed, professional relationships will be ruined, but what would you do if your life was at stake?

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Premise (+5pts)

Character Development (-10pts)

The Action (+5pts)

Predictable (-4pts)

The Actors (+3pts)

Gets Old Quick (-6pts)

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Pro: The Premise (+5pts)

The movie’s greatest strength had to be its premise. It was a pretty ridiculous, but it was a straight forward idea. This made the plot easy to follow, made way for a ton of gory action, and it forced characters into very different roles than what they were used to. The filmmakers clearly knew they had what could be a fun, but ridiculous movie, and I appreciated that the filmmakers did not try to setup the premise in a way that tried to make any logical sense of it. It was ridiculous, and the filmmakers knew it was ridiculous, and this made it easy to look past the logistical issues involved with it. It was a fun premise, that did not need to be realistic. It just needed to entice potential viewers, and it certainly did just that.

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Con: Character Development (-10pts)

While ridiculous, this story’s premise forced its characters to transform. Some definitely transformed more than others, but the filmmakers did a pretty poor job of developing any of these transformations. There was really no character development for any character other than Mike. Then with Mike, the character development that he got was nothing special.

The real problem I had was with all of the characters who became antagonists. It was like an immediate switch that was just flipped. Before the lock down, they were all typical men in an office, but then the lock down started and a bunch of them instantly banded together and were totally okay with murdering people they had worked with for years. It just felt like there was no natural progression here, and the characters felt incredibly one-dimensional. The filmmakers knew they had a ridiculous premise, but they failed to see the great character development that could have been given to all of these characters, as they struggled with the morality of their actions. Instead, the filmmakers made them normal people who just suddenly turned into cold-blooded murderers with the flip of a switch, and none of them showed any real remorse over their actions.

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Pro: The Violence (+5pts)

This was a very violent movie, and it was not mild violence that got old quickly. There was a lot of intense violence from when the building got locked down, right up until the climax of the story. What made the action so compelling was that neither the people dishing it out, nor the people receiving it, were people who were used to violence. With every gunshot, and axe swing, the violence had so much more weight because every character was out of their comfort zone.

The violence made the whole situation feel more intense and more extreme, because it felt unnatural for everyone involved. Additionally, the gore was necessary because it was supposed to shock the characters, as well as the audience. I had a lot of major issues with this movie, but I thought the filmmakers hit the sweet spot with the violence, as it was not gore for the sake of gore. Each shot, blow, and drop of blood had weight to it, and it made it so that the violence never felt stale.

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Con: Predictable (-4pts)

The movie was predictable for two main reasons. The first was that the plot was a bit too simple. I knew where the story was going because there was really only one direction for it to go in. The characters did not have a choice, they either had to kill, or they would die. Some characters were reluctant, some characters were not, but everything progressed exactly as you would expect it to.

This was also a movie that did not benefit from having a main character. Mike found himself in plenty of precarious situations, but I never had concern that he was in trouble, because I knew he would make it to the end. I knew he would survive for one reason, and one reason only: he was the main character. Sure, there was a chance he would die at the end, but for the most part, you will know he will survive all of the situations he found himself in before the climax. This made a lot of the scenes leading up to the climax feel less intense, because I was never worried for the main character.

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Pro: The Actors (+3pts)

Like I said before, the characters were not given much development, which meant the actors were not given much to work with. This, mixed with a ridiculous premise, made for a combination that would be hard to sell to the audience, if the actors could not pull off their respective roles. Fortunately, the cast did a decent job with what they had to work with. There were three types of characters in this movie, and each played an important role in getting the audience to go along with the story. The first type of character were the victims, who did not do much other than scream, panic, or get killed. These characters were important because they made the threat feel real.

The second type of character were the antagonists, who quickly tried to take charge, and claim power to save their own skin, no matter the cost. These characters were obviously important, because they were the threat that the other characters had to overcome. The last type of character were the relatable characters. These were similar to victims, as they were protagonists, but these were the characters who actually did something other than just being bodies for the antagonists to kill. These characters were important because they gave the audience characters to root for. Each character type played an important part of this movie, and the cast did a good job—considering what they had to work with—of making these characters believable, despite the ridiculous situation they were in.

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Con: Gets Old Quick (-6pts)

The filmmakers had a premise that pulled me in, but they did little to maintain my interest. There was plenty of violence, but that was about it. This made the premise feel old pretty quickly, which was not made any better by the fact that the story progressed exactly as you would expect it to. The filmmakers had a good concept, but I got the impression that they overestimated the premise that they had, as they did not try to deliver a compelling story. They simply thought the premise would be good enough on its own—at maintaining interest—but it was not.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: D+ (68pts)

The filmmakers had a decent premise with this movie, but I thought they severely dropped the ball with the execution. The premise was ridiculous in a good way, and the cast did a pretty good job with what they were given. Unfortunately, the movie’s problems far outweighed its strengths. The characters were very poorly written, as they were in a story that could have made for fascinating character stories, but the filmmakers did not follow through. Instead we got a cookie-cutter plot, and while the action was done really well, the overall poor writing was just too much for the movie to overcome. It had potential, but the filmmakers got lazy and delivered a movie that you should probably skip.

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