The Belko Experiment - Billiam's Movie Night

Sunday 3 November 2019

Owain Yeoman being awesome
Yeoman (Left), Goldwyn (Center), McGinley (Right)
A Fire (left) Adria Arjona (center) and John Gallagher (right)

Wow. Look at me. Writing about movies. I used to do that a lot, you know? In fact, that’s what Snarfkris brought me on to do. So why not start that again? In fact, my wife and I just watched a little film that I talked about on my podcast Future Flicks with Billiam. So without further ado, here’s my review of The Belko Experiment.
(Quick note: You may remember this film from my Best Buy Blu-ray Haul)so check out that blog if you haven’t already but just keep in mind that those prices are no longer accurate as the current sales have changed. As of Sept 2nd 2018 the cheapest price is on Amazon for 18.55 Blu-ray and 9.65 DVD. Best Buy has it for 29.99 but still claims to have a price match guarantee)
So let’s start with a brief synopsis and cast, shall we? This movie is about the employees of Belko Industries Colombian branch. One day they show up to work and find that there are a lot of armed guards that they never saw before. They go about their day as they normally do until a voice comes over the PA system telling them that they have to pick two of their coworkers to die and if they don’t, four random people will die. So starts a deadly game of kill or be killed.
This is not a new idea. We’ve had movies about people being put in situations like this. But what we didn’t have was an impressive cast made up of people you know but may not be able to name like my personal favorite Owain Yeoman (The Mentalist, Turn: Washington’s Spies) and others like John Gallagher (The Newsroom), Tony Goldwyn (The Last Samurai), John C. McGinley (Scrubs), Adria Arjona (True Detective), Sean Gunn (Gilmore Girls), and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy).
Have you ever had that actor who’s not a huge name but you just love them in everything. That’s Owain Yeoman for me. I first noticed him in 2008’s Generation Kill. Why am I gushing over this guy? Allow me to explain. This movie has good acting and there were a few choice scenes with Yeoman’s character where I was very impressed with him. No one was bad in this movie but Yeoman took his character one step above. Though, to be honest, I think he also had more to work with than others. McGinley’s character was a far cry from anything I’ve ever seen him in and I’d love to see him play a full on villain. Assuming he hasn’t already and I just missed it.
I feel weird talking about how great some actors are but not giving the others their time in the spotlight. But the thing was, the others were good, but didn’t stand out. They weren’t bad at all. They did their job and I believed them as their characters. But for me Yeoman and McGinley stood out the most.
Let’s talk about the story, shall we? How many times have I mentioned, either in blog form or on Future Flicks, that sometimes even the best actors can’t save a bad story. Fear not. While this is a story we’ve seen before, or at least similar to ones we’ve seen before, The Belko Experiment holds its own. This film came to us from the mind of James Gunn which means that this will be a good thriller with that classic Gunn touch. That doesn’t mean it’s a comedy, nor is it light hearted. It’s just not as dark as, say, Battle Royale or Saw.
For a film with a familiar story, it does a good job of making it unpredictable. As the movie progressed, Anne and I made guesses as to what would happen and I’m glad to say we were right less than fifty percent of the time. The film threw some red herrings into the mix which was a pleasant surprise for an arguably “low-budget” thriller. I didn’t want to use that term because I know the stigmas that come along with it, but it’s also an accurate description. There were a few scenes where there was CG and it was really noticeable. Imagine CG on a network TV show. But the film didn’t rely on special effects so this lack of ILM tech and funds did little to hinder the final product.
This review took me some time to write because for a while I didn’t know what to say. I liked The Belko Experiment. I believe it’s worth a watch and even a rewatch. It has a good story, and good acting.
I wouldn’t normally recommend this film to everyone. I’d classify it as a semi-gory thriller (which some may erroneously refer to as a horror) that starts out feeling like it’ll be a predictable straight to video experience but ends up being a surprisingly fun jaunt through an office building full of people fighting to survive.
The good news is that this can be a stand alone or it could be turned into a series depending on what the studio wants to do from here. But either way this film gets an ending, but will it be the ending you expect? You’ve seen my note about the price change and as of now this isn’t on any streaming service outside of HBOGo. If physical copies don’t matter to you, you can get it digitally for as low as 4.99 for a rental and 14.99 to own. I still recommend this movie despite the fact that it’s not on any “free” streaming service so keep your eyes open for it and watch it if you can.
The Belko Experiment gets an 8 out of 11

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