Spiderhead [Grade: 67.45%]

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Story By: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (adapted from George Saunders)

Cast: Miles Teller, Chris Hemsworth, Jurnee Smollett, & Mark Paguio

* * *

I mean…It wasn’t bad, but…it was quite lazy in its execution. 

* * *

Theme & Story: C-

Pacing: C

Character: C

Overall “Paper” Score: C

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Interesting Enough

Film Enthusiasts: Not Applicable

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Don’t Watch

Sci-Fi / Thriller Fans: Don’t Watch

Overall “Viewing Experience” Score: Don’t Rush

* * *


1. An inmate who signed up to be part of an experiment testing a drug uncovers a truth about not only the drug, but also the company behind the drug. 

This is Spiderhead. 

Thematically, there was potential, but the execution was a little rough. It seems that the attempted message was along the lines of “no human, even if deemed “bad”, deserves inhumane treatment.” 

Act One spends most of the time showcasing the experiment on a few characters at a penitentiary / research facility, though the look of the building gave more research than prison. This is also how we are introduced to our main character along with flashbacks that imply how he ended up at the facility in the first place. 

Act Two gives more screen time understanding the villain of the story while also learning more about this drug and getting more insight to our main character via his flashbacks, and learning a little bit about some of the other inmates to help shed more light on the thematic connection. It’s during this Act that the story pretty much tries to tell the audience the theme / purpose of the story as if knowing it may not be 100% clear, OR maybe trying to make the theme take shape. 

Act Three feels like an entirely different movie in terms of the tone. Additionally, the thematic follow through feels forced a bit. Truths are discovered, schemes are set, and a random comedic turn occurs. 🥴🥴

2. The visual effects for the crash scene…👍🏾👍🏾

3. JURNEE! 😩🙌🏾🙌🏾

4. Chile, first there’s the odd as Act Three with Sorry to Bother You, and now this… 🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️

5. The movie is 97 minutes long, and I mean… It’s watchable. The film does a good job keeping you interested in drug and the antics that come with it—especially the second half of Act One with Heather and Sarah. 

I do think the film moves a little too fast, and it seems obvious that the writing team may have been more interested in the drug aspect of the story vs ethical core of the story. Also, everything about Act Three felt like  they must’ve been tight on time… maybe their time at the location was getting short and they needed to hurry up… I don’t know, but it was such underwhelming, fast-paced ending… but how? 🥴🤦🏾‍♂️

6. So Miles and Joseph were like, “Once Top Gun wraps, you uh… wanna do a min-project with me as a side hustle for Netflix?” 👀

7. That “Oh hell naw” moment with Rogan! 😩😩😂

8. Not “Shitty hands” 😂😂

9. The name is a little childish…Darkenfloxx? 👀😂🤦🏾‍♂️ 

10. You know… I must say that Chris Hemsworth gives a pretty solid performance. I just hate that the tone of the film wasn’t consistent enough to match his delivery… or maybe the delivery he chose wasn’t what the film actually needed? Who knows, but I liked him. Especially his delivery in Act Three. 

Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett also gave solid performances. I mean, actually…. The performances across the board were good. 

Now…in terms of driving the theme, this is where the characters weren’t utilized well for me. As mentioned with the pacing and the theme, Act Three seemed to force the characters to align with the theme, especially through one of the last and most intense dialogues that happen between Chris, Jurnee, and Miles. 

As engagement leaders, the characters were great. As thematic leaders, the characters were inconsistent. 🥴

* * *

Overall #Spiderhead gives Handsmaid’s Tale – meets Orange is the New Black – meets The Giver – meets The One – meets the Ark Angel episode from Black Mirror. 

This film had some true potential. I appreciated the clever symbolism of the experiment with views regarding inmates/criminals/the criminalized, and just wish that there was more time and commitment to unpacking that topic in a more gripping, critical, and wild way. 

To be honest, this would’ve definitely been  executed better as a Black Mirror episode. 

OR… hear me out… as a thriller but with children in foster care or a juvenile detention center with a focus on systemic cycles (and ways the system keeps certain individuals in the cycle)… 

OR a merging of the two. 

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