Two inmates begin a relationship and confront each other’s pasts in a state-of-the-art prison run by a visionary who experiments on inmates using mind-altering drugs. One of them begins to question the purpose of what they are administering.
Based on the short story “Escape From Spiderhead” by George Saunders for The New Yorker, Spiderhead is black humor, a cross-genre psychological thriller directed by Joseph Kosinski ( TRON: Legacy, Top Gun: Maverick ), from a screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool, Welcome to Zombieland). Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller lead a cast that also includes Jurnee Smollett, Mark Paguio, Tess Haubrich, Angie Milliken, and Stephen Tongun. The film opens on Netflix on June 17, 2022.
A mental prison that sneaks up
Spiderhead is one of those movies that, if it went to theaters, would be promoted in a big way, so that no one is left unaware of its existence, especially with a fashionable director like Joseph Kosinski behind the cameras, especially now because of the recent premiere from Top Gun: Maverick. But in case behind the cameras is not reason enough to go to theaters, in front of them we have two actors who do not usually disappoint, especially for the box office, since the main character is the god of thunder from Marvel, Chris Hemsworth, to who we’ll soon see again in Thor: Love and Thunder, and alongside him is Miles Teller ( Whiplash), an actor who still has to give us much more joy for the great roles that he usually offers us.
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Surprisingly, this science fiction thriller has arrived on the platform at a time when the quality of Netflix productions is in question, and also if they have a sufficiently striking catalog to serve as a claim against the loss of subscribers. It is rare that it is not advertised on television or at bus stops, but Spiderhead sneaks up without attracting too much attention, and despite the fact that, beyond the claim at the technical team level, it has a story capable of hooking.
The film takes us to a state-of-the-art prison run by brilliant visionary Steve Abnesti ( Chris Hemsworth ). Prisoners are implanted with a device that administers mind-altering drugs in exchange for commuting their sentences. Spiderhead is a prison without bars, cells, and orange jumpsuits: volunteers are free to be themselves…until they’re not. Sometimes, they are improved versions. What do you need to relax? There is a drug for that. That someone is speechless? For that, there is another. But when a relationship develops between two inmates—Jeff ( Miles Teller ) and Lizzy ( Jurnee Smollett )—, his path to redemption takes a tremendous turn, and Abnesti’s experiments begin to blur the limits of free will.
Too bad to see it with high expectations
With all that said before, we have more than enough reasons to approach this film, and where it does not fail is in the visual part that always manages to be commendable in Kosinksi’s films, as he made clear with his science fiction adventure Oblivion, which served even to make us forget how poor the script was. Here again, we have a prison designed to the delight of those of us who enjoy a good science fiction movie with a futuristic setting, showing everything in a balanced way for the mental well-being of its “prisoners”, but still, something is wrong.
As often happens in real life, behind a beautiful façade -in this case, the modern prison in which these prisoners reside-, sinister drug experiments take place within its walls, pushing the patients to their limits, although the film is taken its time to show everything that is at stake. The idea of prison without bars in which the inmates were the guinea pigs of a visionary scientist seemed like something that could hook us, and that would give a lot of play, but once the cards are shown on the table, the experiments become increasingly more questionable, the film enters a spiral of situations that cause the loss of interest in the central plot. At least it’s short, but even so, a few minutes could have been cut.
It is true that we have a story ahead that makes us reflect, and so we ask ourselves if the limits of ethics are really clear, and if anything goes when you agree to take a medication, finding multiple approaches to these questions, but far from trying to offer answers, choose to turn this short story into one more of those Hollywood movies, and the second half of the movie completely loses its focus and its potential is blurred.
At least Chris and Miles have cause for joy.
Accustomed as we are to seeing Chris Hemsworth as a Marvel superhero or in action movies in which the actor is not too demanding, it is a joy to see that even in a somewhat unsuccessful production he is able to offer one of his best performances, as a visionary but doubtful scientist in charge of a prison, always with a radiant smile and a perfectly aligned life, but capable of not feeling empathy with anyone in order to achieve his goals.
Read more related topics: Spiderhead was going for a great Netflix science fiction movie from the director of Top Gun: Maverick and stays in a discreet episode of Black Mirror
Although Hemsworth achieves one of the roles for which he could be remembered, he has had the misfortune to share the screen with Miles Teller, who we already know is a versatile actor capable of getting into any role, and here he demonstrates a wide variety of records that cast a shadow over Chris’s work. At least, beyond the poor final result of the film, there is no doubt that both offer the best of themselves in this film that will be a success on the platform since Spiderhead has everything that is needed so that at least all the world see a few minutes of it.
Spiderhead is an attractive film for almost any viewer, with impeccable staging, an outstanding direction, and a well-known cast that brings out the best in its characters, but it is disappointing as a science fiction thriller in that it did not reach its full potential. the story on which it is based.