Film review: Brawl in Cell Block 99

A surprising performance and a mile from the usual comedic performances from Vince Vaughn and not a movie I expected it to be at all before going into the cinema. Read on to find out why it was a surprise hit for me and why I enjoyed every moment of this movie…

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is the long-awaited film from the brilliant Craig Zahler, the director of the 2015 surprise hit Bone Tomahawk. Now usually, movies I have watched starring Vince Vaughn have been comedy films or romantic comedies. Well, when I saw the trailer for this film I thought to myself, ‘I don’t think I can take him seriously in this role and it would be an enormous letdown and spoil the film for me’, but boy was I so wrong! And so glad! A stand out performance from Vince Vaughn playing Bradley Thomas, it shows his full scale of acting and versatility in the film and I was totally blown away by his ability from his usual wise cracking comedy films. It’s his best performance to date without a shadow of doubt! It’s almost like he has played this hard bad-boy character since day one and certainly I now look at him has a more serious actor and look forward to future roles.

Jennifer Carpenter plays Bradley Thomas’ wife, and throughout the film we see many different emotions and an abundance of versatile acting from her. It’s an excellent performance and is a pleasure to watch also alongside a very strong cast. It is hard to portray a character’s ups and downs throughout a film but Jennifer Carpenter pulls it off tremendously well. The supporting cast includes Don Johnson and Udo Kier, also offering up outstanding performances.

I can be entirely honest and admit it was not the movie I thought it was going to be. The trailer gives little away and I won’t spoil with any plot here. I thought it was going to be basically the good guy gets sent to prison and then he starts boxing while making a better person out of himself and a credit to society. I was way off! And let’s just say it’s a Tarantino type film, with a 1960’s ‘grind house’ feel with compelling violence in its story and lots of it. Saying this film is violent is an understatement, but fans of horror and hard-core thriller will be used to this style of movie and If you’re not into extremely violent films then I would stay clear of this one as it’s pretty gruesome.

The story is a very good one and there was never a dull moment in the film. It reminded me of a cross between Clint Eastwood’s Escape from Alcatraz, Assault of Precinct 13 and A History of Violence all rolled into one film. Tarantino certainly wanted to surprise himself with offering a basic concept of a prison movie while keeping it totally unpredictable! The fight scenes are excellently choreographed backed up with strong acting and stellar performances from Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Carpenter. The film is a must-see for a totally different film to the norm. It’s a good film overall with a great story and acting, but sadly not likely a film that will get great recognition and would be low on my list of films to re-watch.





Author: Paul, York store