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Rated 3.18 stars
by 265 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Future Prison Blues
by Betty Jo Tucker

Would I miss a film co-starring Chris Hemsworh and Miles Teller? Not on your life. Hemsworth won me over with his comic performances in Thor: Ragnarok and Ghostbusters. Plus, Teller became a favorite of mine because of his terrific work in Whiplash.  I was so ready for Spiderhead!   How could things go wrong? As usual, that’s because of my high expectations. 

Here’s the set-up as I saw it. The story takes place in the near future at Spiderhead, a new type of prison where inmates volunteer to be involved in testing new drugs. Why would they do this? Because they get private rooms, better food and more freedom.  

At first Steve Abnesti (Hemsworth) seems like a genial counselor whose job is to help the prisoners, not manipulate them. But as Hamlet said, “One  may smile and smile and be a villain.”

When Jeff (Teller), one of the prisoners, begins to question Abnesti’s judgment things start to go awry. The rest of the movie shows the changing relationship between these two men, and we get a chance to see a battle of ethics unfold before our very eyes – one that becomes quite brutal. Manipulation in full swing can only last for so long.       

Some prisoners get new treatments

if they agree no arguments.

They’re hooked up to a strange back pack.

It receives feelings they may lack.


Will this help them or researcher?

The scientist seems awfully sure.

Technology gets out of hand.

“Spiderhead” is no movie grand.


Hemsworth and Teller do their best.

But plotline should be put to rest.

I almost forgot to give a shout out for Jurnee Smollett (Lovecraft Country), who also gives a strong performance here. She plays Lizzy, a prisoner who falls for Jeff. These two characters have committed crimes but feel deeply sorry for them, and we can understand their sadness.      

Based on the short story “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Saunders, this offering mixes genres – sci-fi, drama, action, thriller. That’s probably why I was disappointed. Hemsworth does comedy so well, I was hoping he would be playing a more amusing character. Instead, he’s downright scary – a far cry from his hilarious Ghostbuster’s lovable bimbo.

But my major complaint lies with the film’s predictability. It’s easy to guess what Abnesti is up to and how he will get his comeuppance.  

On the positive side, I admit to enjoying this movie’s interesting background music. It helped me stay with Spiderhead to the very end.    

(Released by Neflix and rated “R” by MPAA.)

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

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