Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

BRAWL IN CELL BLOC K99

Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson

Plot:   A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.
Running Time: 2 hours 12 Minutes
IMDB Score: 7.2

Why I watched it: It got very good reviews, it did the festival circuit and also I had seen Zahler’s first film Bone Tomahawk and for the most part liked it and wanted to see what he had next.

Random Thoughts: This should prove that Vince Vaughn is a solid to very good actor, I thought he got lazy with his comedy work and just played the same character.  This role will get him tons of work cause he was committed and showed a ton of range.

What I liked: Vince Vaughn is very good in this film and he’s good in a lot of different ways.  Finally a film took advantage of Vaughn’s size, he’s a big guy and I will say he’s not ripped or anything but he’s gotten into shape for this.  The other thing I think he did well was to play a quiet man and also a man smarter than people give him credit for both of these things are hard to play.  I had problems with this film but the reason I watched all the way through is because of Vaughn’s performance.  There’s a scene really early on where he loses his job and finds out his wife is cheating on him, he goes crazy and bare handed destroys her car and then goes in and talks to her, best scene of the movie for me and yes it’s a very Actor type scene but Vaughn pulls it off.

You’re never really sure where this film is going, and I would say go in with as little knowledge as you can cause it’s a different film if anything it’s a grindhouse type film and it’s got it’s own rhythm.  I might not have loved both of the films Zahler has directed but there’s no doubt he has a different view and vibe to his films, there genre for sure but he twists them in different directions, and if you look at his films they’re very different but very much actor based.
The rest of the cast is fine, I wish Don Johnson would work more and in bigger roles cause he’s so at ease with himself as an actor and has such charisma he should be working more and give him tons of credit he stands in front of Vaughn giving up many inches and it’s hard to tell who’s the bigger bad ass.

What I didn’t Like: The run time for me was tough, no way this movie should be this long and trust me it drags at times.  Pacing was a problem for me at about halfway through I took a half hour break and I needed it cause the film lost me, I liked Vaughn but this felt like a journey taking the scenic route.
I like Don Johnson a ton but he’s wasted here and he’s not in it that much, he’s good but that’s him not the role the role is cliched.  Udo Kier is stunt casting he’s in maybe three scenes one was good but I would have liked to see him with more to do and again he plays a cliched role, he’s a plot point.

The violence is jarring and a little much for me, trust me I’m fine with violence to a point and this film crossed the line for me as the last 15-20 minutes was over the top brutal, I had to look away a ton of times and it got repetitive, stomping someone’s head in the floor is harsh and tough to watch doing it three times is way too much and really not needed.  Also found the violence at the end was an easy out, the film painted itself into a corner and the third act twist was not needed.  I’ll be honest I thought the third act got silly, too much, the film lives on the main character but the end tries to go balls to the walls violence that did nothing for the story, and i’ll go on record I didn’t like the ending.

Final Thoughts: This film is all about Vaughn’s performance and for that it’s worth watching but I felt it was a flawed film and a little too grim for me, and I like grim.

Rating: 5/10

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