Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, and Jurnee Smollett
Netflix’s Spiderhead is a thriller based on the short story ‘Escape from Spiderhead’ by George Saunders. The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who also directed Top Gun: Maverick, with a script from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. It’s a story that plays around with the ideas of free-will, control, and regret, but frustratingly doesn’t fully explore its own ideas.
Chris Hemsworth stars as Steve Abnesti, who runs an island prison where the prisoners are allowed to live relatively free and happy lives, with more luxuries than they’d get in a normal prison. In return they become part of Steve’s experiments, where he is testing chemicals that can alter people’s mood and emotions. One of the prisoners, Jeff (Miles Teller) starts to suspect that there’s more going on than Steve is letting on and starts to fight back from the experiments.
The premise of Spiderhead is really interesting, with Jeff slowly discovering what’s going on around him. At the start you’re not really sure what’s happening, and while the reveals are satisfying it does feel like they don’t go far enough. It only focuses on the experiments that are completed, but it feels really predictable. There’s also a few moments that feel forced, especially since Steve is using the chemicals himself and you know that will lead to his own downfall. The film leaves you thinking about how else the idea of controlling people through drugs could be used and that the film is just filled with wasted potential.
Chris Hemsworth is really good as the villain of the story. He’s naturally charming as always, but there’s a deeply sinister side to him that is hinted at throughout the story. Miles Teller does a good job as Jeff, as does Jurnee Smollett as Lizzy, Jeff’s love interest. Both Jeff and Lizzy are struggling with their past and why they’re in the prison. All of the characters are really well-written and engaging.
Spiderhead is a decent thriller, is just doesn’t live up to the full potential of the premise. It’s still better than a lot of the weekly Netflix films, with some good performances, interesting ideas, and some moments of true tension.
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Your last paragraph summed it up perfectly, Ashley. Glad I saw it…enjoyed it…better than most Netflix…worth a look.
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Thank you. Definitely worth a look.
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