Combustible Celluloid Review - Spiderhead (2022), Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, based on a story by George Saunders, Joseph Kosinski, Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, based on a story by George Saunders
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
MPAA Rating: R for violent content, language and sexual content
Running Time: 106
Date: 06/17/2022

Spiderhead (2022)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Experimental Shrugs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

To a casual viewer, Joseph Kosinski's Spiderhead may seem like a star-driven sci-fi tale done just well enough to satisfy without leaving a lasting impression. However, if one is familiar with the superb short story it's based on, "Escape from Spiderhead," by George Saunders (from his masterful 2013 collection Tenth of December), it elicits a different reaction. Except for (unsurprisingly) the ending, the film follows the story fairly closely while almost entirely missing its deeply cynical point. Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett) are prisoners who are serving their time in a drug-testing facility. Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) gives them everything from drugs to make them fall in love, to "Darkenfloxx," which causes untold anguish. After an ironic series of cross-reference tests, Jeff realizes the true sinister nature of the place and decides to take drastic measures. Director Kosinski, whose Top Gun: Maverick is still burning up theaters, can't quite give this one the same thrust.

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