Nobody gets paid enough for modern corporate massacres

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

The Belko Experiment
Opens March 17, wide

Imagine The Hunger Games without the terrible romance, or Battle Royale without the mystique. The Belko Experiment is just an everyone-for-themselves brawl set in Trump’s America, and it’s predictably nasty and entertaining.

In all fairness to the short-fingered vulgarian, The Belko Experiment takes place in Colombia, where 80 Americans work for a faceless entity doing ant-work. One random morning, their office building goes on lockdown and a disembodied voice orders them to start killing each other, otherwise, an implant in their head will go off.

Camaraderie and disbelief soon gives way to warring factions: the pacifists, who refuse to follow orders; the alpha-males, who quickly get the gist of the game; and the so-called good guys, looking for a way out but not above pulling the trigger if necessary.

Written by James Gunn (who has since moved to bigger and better things, like the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise), The Belko Experiment does several things right that keep the audience guessing. The film casts B-list actors (Scandal’s President! Big Head from Silicon Valley! Michael Rooker!), any of whom can (and do!) bite the dust at a moment’s notice.

The Belko Experiment is vicious (unlike The Hunger Games’ gore-free kills, blood and brains decorate the cubicles), but there’s method to the madness. Those who choose to play, approach the challenge as chess. There are at least five characters whose strategies could win it all.

As social experiments go, this one has a very negative opinion of humanity. Bring on a crisis and it’s everyone for themselves.

Because The Belko Experiment unfolds at tremendous speed, there isn’t time to become attached to any of the hapless drones (no investment, limited stakes). Nevertheless, the movie delivers as much sick fun as you can get away with at the multiplex. ❧