The Belko Experiment Review
The Belko Experiment brings new meaning to the phrase ‘just another day at the office’
It’s every person for themselves when 80 office workers in Colombia find themselves in a game of last man standing.Mike Milch (John Gallagher Jr.) starts off his morning just like any other regular work day: the long commute to work combined with the expected, but always resented, rush hour traffic and the usual Monday morning blues. However when Mike pulls up to his office block situated in a middle of nowhere district of the city of Bogotá in Colombia, he is greeted by military personnel who are conducting inspections on all the cars and sending the local workers home. Mike soon begins to think that this day might not be just like any other day at the office. Inside and apparently unfazed by the military presence the numerous workers from various departments settle down into the daily grind at Belko International. We learn that working at Belko seems like the perfect job complete with all the expected perks, as HR guy Vince Agostino (Brent Sexton) welcomes the latest employee during an induction meeting presenting her with the keys to a company car, an apartment and a company credit card.When a voice comes over the speaker system informing the workforce that out of the 80 members of staff only a few will be alive by the end of the day, most just laugh it off as some prank, all but Mike who insists that everyone should evacuate just as a precaution. Panic starts to set in when metal shutters cut off all the exits to the building and with no means of escape it falls to the company’s COO Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn) to take control of the situation. However, not even Norris’s smooth talking can keep everyone calm when the mysterious voice eventually enlightens the people of the predicament they find themselves in: they have 30 minutes to kill 2 fellow employees or else many more will die. It soon becomes apparent that each and every person trapped inside the building has unwittingly been entered into a game of kill or be killed. As tensions build the staff split off into groups based on their hierarchy within the workplace in a desperate attempt to stay alive.
Directed by Greg McLean, whose 2005 Wolf Creek followed a similar violent and sadistic path, with a script written by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) The Belko Experiment does not fail to bombard its audience with some inventive kills (I for one will never look at a sellotape dispenser in the same way again). The storyline is pretty straightforward and for the most part remains largely predictable but there are enough surprises along the way to keep the audience interested. McLean makes every effort to showcase the different levels of the work force which aids in creating sympathy for certain characters and likewise helps when the less favourable get their comeuppance.
The dialogue at times is pretty strained and only just about comes off as convincing. The set up is very formulaic and quick in its attempt to establish stereotypes but also isn’t afraid to go against them in places. The macho group are all ex-servicemen and seem to revel in no-holds-barred violence, the sensible group try to get out of the situation by using logic and the pot-smoking caretakers add an element of humour to the mix. It is a film all about violence, which is offered up on a silver platter accompanied by the likes of Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. The Belko Experiment is definitely an excuse to indulge in those twisted fantasies that you might have about killing your boss or co-worker.
It quickly descends into a bloody mess, foregoing much of the story and character development
Mike is clearly the main character and it is with him that we sympathise and predominantly follow as he tries to keep everyone alive and safe. Playing Mike's love interest is Adria Arjona as Leandra who follows closely behind Mike but is given a few moments to shine on her own. John C. McGinley is Wendell Dukes, the office sleeze bag and bully, a role that he plays extraordinarily well. Goldwyn as Norris is probably the most interesting, purely because of his character's ever changing mentality as the day wears on. With such a large cast many of the characters are paid little attention to but the ones who are fortunate enough to have some decent screen time manage to use it well.
The Belko Experiment is a simple film that doesn’t over complicate things with a lot of detail or backstory. It’s extremely violent in places almost to the point where it makes up for the lack of narrative. It’s definitely one for fans of this genre and if you can look past the simplicity, it’s an interesting watch and one that has a few tricks up its sleeve and an unexpected ending.
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