BRaWl IN CEll BlOCk 99
CERTIFICATE TBc DIRECTOR s. craig Zahler STARRING vince vaughn, Jennifer carpenter, Don Johnson, Marc Blucas SCREENPLAY s. craig Zahler DISTRIBUTOR Universal RUNNING TIME 132 mins
Hot off cult western Bone Tomahawk, writerdirector S. Craig Zahler hits the bullseye again with his sophomore effort. At its core is a powerhouse performance from Vince Vaughn as Bradley Thomas, a drug-running family man with more anger management problems than the Hulk. But he’s also fiercely loyal, even when a narcotics run goes wrong and he’s left facing seven years in jail.
Once inside, he’s put in a further bind: either he kills a fellow prisoner, or a doctor will mutilate the unborn child growing inside Bradley’s kidnapped wife (Jennifer Carpenter). Trouble is, the inmate in question is in a separate maximum security jail – run by Don Johnson’s cigarillo-chewing warden – and holed up in Cell Block 99, “the prison within the prison” where the real lowlifes reside.
Tarantino, Peckinpah and Siegel-inspired, Zahler sends Bradley on a Dante-like journey through the Circles of Hell – a hopeless and horrifying descent. Full of skull-crunching, arm-snapping, face-scraping moments, the violence is cartoon-sick. But Vaughn, shaven bald to reveal a huge cross tattoo, utterly convinces. Scored with stomping soul (by Zahler and Jeff Herriott), it electrifies.
Aided by an astounding Vaughn, Zahler’s ultra-violent genre mash-up is bloody terrific.
Vince Vaughn: a chameleonic actor.