Spiderhead Movie Review and Movie Synopsis (2022)
“Spiderhead” imagines a different prison system, with an open-door policy that allows inmates to have a sense of self, to cook for themselves, to work out whenever they want. What they sacrifice as punishment is their brain chemistry for science, which is played by Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth), following orders from a protocol committee hoping to solve the world’s problems through assays. The prisoner has free will to take an experimental dose – approved by saying “Recognize” – and may face the self-loathing of “Darkenfloxx” or the overwhelming need to laugh of “Laffodil”. If Abnesti needs them to speak their minds, he ups the ante (via a smartphone app) on “Verbaluce.” They are strange names (from the short story by George Saunders Escape from Spiderheada first-person narrative that thrives on casually throwing those words around), and it’s definitely odd to see Hemsworth playing this guy.
A good side effect of “Spiderhead” is that performances can have their own potency, but not when given a certain dosage. Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett, two of the main prisoners, give safe performances as Jeff and Lizzie, respectively. Jail has given them a chance to forgive each other, as both are here due to horrific cases of manslaughter. It’s funny, but revealing how the film’s dosing scenes, those simulations they bring to life by screaming, writhing on the couch, and sometimes feigning suicide, leave you cold. The literal act of Abnesti turning them in different ways becomes almost a conceit of a film that itself forces its power, its vague reason to exist.
Based on Saunders’ short story but given a distinct stench by self-amused “Deadpool” screenwriters Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, “Spiderhead” strives for an ominous quirkiness. Abnesti isn’t your average evil genius, nor Spiderhead your average penitentiary, and it’s not your usual garrulous sci-fi thriller. Even the opening and closing credits are scribbled in pink chicken stripes, accompanied by an upbeat Supertramp song that kicks off a soundtrack that goes openly between George Benson, Chuck Mangione and Hall & Oates. But whatever “Spiderhead” laughs at or tries to sneak inside his drama, doesn’t shine enough. The film can be so backwards that even its lead role can feel out of place – it’s initially interesting to see Hemsworth play someone so disarmingly manipulative, but it becomes a stark expression of the film’s limited statements about science. , power, control . He makes a stronger case for a redesign, for someone who doesn’t just rehash the trope of the “hot scientist wearing glasses.”