(US - 2017)
Directed by Greg McLean. Written by James Gunn. Cast: John Gallagher Jr, Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Owain Yeoman, Josh Brener, Sean Gunn, Brent Sexton, James Earl, David Dastmalchian, Rusty Schwimmer, Abraham Benrubi, Stephen Blackehart, Benjamin Byron Davis, David Del Rio. (R, 89 mins)
Years before hitting the big time with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, James Gunn wrote THE BELKO EXPERIMENT but stashed it away and made 2011's SUPER instead. He dusted the script off in 2015, gave it a polish, and handed it to WOLF CREEK director Greg McLean (THE DARKNESS) while he got to work prepping the upcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2. Though it's the first good movie McLean has directed in the decade since the killer croc gem ROGUE, BELKO still feels more like a Gunn joint, with its dark sense of misanthropic humor and shock bits that recall his early days at Troma (he wrote 1996's TROMEO AND JULIET), plus supporting roles for Gunn fixtures like his younger brother Sean and Character Actor Hall of Famers Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry. Opening with a Spanish-language flamenco version of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," THE BELKO EXPERIMENT depicts one really bad day at the office for 80 employees at the Bogota, Colombia branch of the US-based Belko Industries. A government-run nonprofit that specializes in "facilitating services for American companies in South America," Belko's real purpose seems vague even to its staff, and this day starts off in an odd way when the local Bogota employees are turned away at the gate and told to go home by a new team of armed security personnel, leaving only the 80 American transfers in the high-rise located in the remote outskirts of the city. Things proceed in a relatively normal fashion until late morning, when office drone Mike Milch (John Gallagher Jr) notices the new guards going into a never-used storage building on the property. Soon after, impenetrable steel shutters are activated to cover the windows and doors, the phones and internet stop working, and a voice over the intercom informs them that they have to begin killing their co-workers in the next 30 minutes or else other measures will be taken. No one seems to take it seriously until the time expires and several random people have the back of their heads blown off--not by bullets as initially thought, but by activated tracking chips planted at the base of their skulls when they were hired, in the event any of them were kidnapped by local insurgents.
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