Miles Teller Steals The Show In Another Neglected Netflix Original

Miles Teller Steals The Show In Another Neglected Netflix Original

Still starring on top of the box office hit of Top Gun: Maverick in recent weeks, director Joseph Kosinski is releasing another, less risky project on Netflix, set in Australia during the two years of the pandemic that delayed the release of Tom Cruise’s vehicle.

Adapted from a short story by George Saunders originally published in The New Yorker, “Spiderhead” imagines a futile reality as a pharmaceutical company experiments on inmates with chemicals that can drastically alter a person’s behavior.

In an increasingly rare on-screen viewing of the Australian actor without a Thor costume, Chris Hemsworth plays the slick villain Steve Abnesty, responsible for this morally questionable stalking, but still a pawn for a larger company that he claims is forcing him to push boundaries. of the health of his subjects. He smiles and compliments, but he’s hiding something sinister. In his sinister Bond lair overlooking the ocean, on the island where this supposedly more human prison is located, this is the kind of quirky character that the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal or Oscar Isaac can make memorable; Hemsworth, not so much.

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Stephen and his companion Mark (Marc Baguio) attach a device to prisoners’ spines to dispense a mixture of medicines to each prisoner. Stephen controls every substance ingested from his mobile phone and instantly feels accurate about our reliance on mobile devices and absurdly simplistic given what’s at stake. Before a new dose enters the inmate’s bloodstream, Steve asks each person to verbally “confess” their consent, creating the illusion of potency.

Feeling guilt over a car accident that landed him in prison, Jeff (Miles Teller) becomes Steve’s favorite specimen. Early on, he withstood a drug that repeated sexual arousal and attachment after intercourse with multiple partners; These scenes eventually fall into anti-gay tropes about prison rape that seem lazy. But Jeff’s romantic interest lies in Lizzie (Gurney Smollett), a fellow inmate, and Steve will later use their relationship to try another paranoid mix.

Brimming with ’80s nostalgia via its great soundtrack, “Spiderhead” reminds us of titles such as “The Island,” “Ex Machina,” “High Life,” and “Swan Song” by Michael Bay. But she feels derivative and invests only superficially in her big ideas about second chances and the enigma of appropriating the bodies of individuals that society has deemed irreparable.

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Co-authors Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (“Deadpool”) improvise tonal swings that mimic how drug trials disrupt the emotions of those being tested, mixing humor in some scenarios with darker undertones inherent in the premise.

Contained almost entirely in one windowless space, the film looks cinematically nice, unfolding in white rooms and corridors that could have been pulled from any random office building. Even the touch of Academy Award-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda, whose ambition often comes as it does in Top Gun: Maverick, looks flat, as if the design, save for a notable flashback sequence. One gets the impression that filmmakers pursue a certain smoothness that is never fully apparent due to the general sets and technical devices that appear strangely. The film maker also often resorts to needle drops to pump the film with air from artificial cold.

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Teller, a great actor who anchors this effort with a compelling performance, carries himself with a somber atmosphere. Only when on screen do the consequences of this perverted game appear as outrageous as they are. At one point during the ordeal, Jeff and Steve spent an evening together under the influence of a drug that causes uncontrollable laughter; Just as the former admits that abandoning his father constitutes his biggest wound, Jeff’s piercing stare conveys his fervent desire for freedom.

None of the other prisoners, all of whom were supposed to agree to this arrangement, got much time in front of screens or back stories. If one considers that the only centered detainees are those whose crimes are attributed to negligence rather than malice (Jeff and Lizzie), then the story’s message of forgiveness does not apply to others. As narrow-minded and philosophically appropriate, the creators show little intent to deal with the repercussions of their “provocative” perception but not very clearly. This level of engagement might be enough for a short story, but the lack of depth is evident here.

“Spiderhead” can be entertaining as long as you don’t dig too deeply. Like many recent Netflix originals, it’s not essential or individual enough to merit a lot of attention after its first weekend of release — just another sci-fi movie with a careless antagonist. Very bad fans can’t get any of the laughter-inducing liquid on screen.

The first Spiderhead movie premieres on Netflix in the US on June 17.

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