3 1/2 StarsA slick, engrossing psychological thriller with superb acting and enough suspenseful scenes to keep you spellbound until the powerful conclusion. Adrien Brody stars as a man down on his luck financially motivated to sign up for a medical experiment that pays $1,000 a day for two weeks. The selected subjects are split into two groups, inmates and guards in a mock prison environment. Inmates must exhibit complete obedience and the guards are not permitted to use physical violence in keeping order. These guidelines are to be followed if everyone is to be paid at the end of the 14 days. Forest Whitaker is a marvel as the silent man of religion turned power mad lunatic. His character’s arc is arguably the heart of the film. However sturdy character actors Clifton Collins Jr. and Cam Gigandet are well used in supporting roles, each steal every scene they appear in.
Based on the 2001 German film of the same name, this English adaption is worthy of a theatrical release. It’s a shame that the distributor had no faith in the project or audiences, the production values are above the norm of straight-to-DVD fare and the films stars two former OSCAR winners in Brody and Whitaker.Director Paul Scheuring keeps the viewers loyalties shifting between outrage for the treatment of the inmates and sympathy for the guards. The alternation becomes a effective narrative device that forces the audience to feel the confusion and terror the characters are facing. This makes for an exhilarating but emotionally draining viewing experience.
Director: Paul Scheuring
Stars: Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet