The Belko Experiment

I often enjoy movies in the style of Battle Royale (like The Running Man, Death Race 2000, Turkey Shoot, Hard Target, and Series 7: The Contenders). I often enjoy movies written by James Gunn (including Dawn of the Dead, Slither, Super, and Guardians of the Galaxy). I enjoyed Wolf Creek, the only Greg McLean-directed film I’d seen. The Belko Experiment combines all three of these things but leaves out the enjoyability.

Belko is a company of some sort with an office building in Bogotá, Colombia. It’s a rough neighborhood, so the building is fortified, the grounds are patrolled by armed guards, and all the employees have had GPS trackers surgically implanted so they can be located if they get kidnapped. But these things purportedly there for worker safety are used against them when the building is sealed off by unknown villains and order its occupants to start killing each other. Failure to comply will result in even greater numbers of casualties via the small bombs they’re carrying around under the guise of GPS trackers.

This movie is just awful. There isn’t nearly as much action as you’d expect, and a lot of that action is surprisingly dull. Most of the deaths are from people getting shot or having their heads blown up by the GPS bombs. Even the few exceptions to this (including one of the key kills, which is spoiled by the movie’s poster) aren’t as brutal or as exciting as they should have been. There’s a lot of arguing, but even the arguments aren’t convincing or entertaining. The characters (played by actors I usually like watching, including John C. McGinley, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Melonie Diaz, and Abraham Benrubi) are mostly pretty terrible people, and it’s impossible to believe they would all be as stupid as they are portrayed. I mean, why in the world would they all agree to have tracking devices surgically implanted into their heads?

The poster bills the movie as “Office Space meets Battle Royale”, but that’s only partially accurate because it has virtually nothing in common with Office Space, and it’s missing just about all of the things that make Battle Royale a great film. Clearly, the filmmakers also have a fondness for The Cabin in the Woods, since major elements are obviously lifted from it, but again, taking content doesn’t equal taking what made that content great. In this case, you’re much better off watching the films that inspired it, and the earlier, better works of the people involved.