Saturday, November 4, 2017

[Review] Brawl in Cell Block 99

Even though he's mostly known for his comedic chops, actor Vince Vaughn is no stranger to the darker and serious roles, and that's exactly what he pulls off in the rough-and-tumble Brawl in Cell Block 99 -- a ruthlessly violent crime drama of intense prison life, gritty fisticuffs, and skull-crushing.

Vaughn plays Bradley, a former heavyweight boxer turned heavyweight drug-runner. Oh yeah, and he has a huge tattoo of a cross on the back of his shaved head. Anyway, when an exchange turns deadly, Bradley winds up in prison where he must fight to stay alive -- quite literally.

Shot in a brooding light, this thoroughly engrossing film gets off to a deliberate and strategic start before throwing its haymakers. It's directed by S. Craig Zahler, who helmed last year's cannibal western tale Bone Tomahawk, so you know you're in for some unflinching mayhem, especially as the prison setting practically takes on the form of a dungeonous battleground.

It takes a few moments to get used to seeing Vince Vaughn like this, but he does the hardened tough guy part very well here. It also helps that his character is given dimension beyond the exterior. He's a wisecracker; he has a strict moral compass; and he's very matter-of-fact about his situation and self-aware about his own contradictions. And that's essentially what the film is about -- crime doesn't pay, but some people are driven to it and dig deeper and deeper -- until there's no way out.

( 8/10 )

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1 comment:

  1. Nice review Zach. I dug this flick a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. Great midnight movie. Vaughn was so insane in it!