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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Belko Industries is about to undergo some serious downsizing. And while staff reductions are never easy, Belko's cutbacks will be especially painful.

No one at Belko—at least not anyone who showed up for work that day—suspected that the axe would fall quite so heavily. Sure, security was a little tighter going in. But when your offices are inexplicably located on the outskirts of Bogota, Columbia, that's to be expected: It's not necessarily the most hospitable locale for mostly American white-collar workers, and dealing with security threats is part of the cost of doing business.

Belko obviously prepares for the worst. The building itself is a veritable fortress—its windows equipped with state-of-the-art metal shutters, its thick concrete walls reinforced with that same metal. Why, if a zombie apocalypse toppled the rest of civilization, Belko's offices could continue humming for quite some time, thank you very much. It's not an easy place to get in. (Or out.) And in order to keep its employees safe from the occasional Columbian kidnapping scheme, Belko has thoughtfully installed tracking devices in its employees' necks. "[With] that sucker, they can locate you anywhere, anytime," a helpful HR rep tells a new employee.

So no one was too worried when a voice popped on the company intercom and announced that in order to remain gainfully employed, they'd need to kill two of their fellow employees in the next 30 minutes. A bad joke, obviously. A hack. And when the voice told them that failing to comply would have serious consequences, the Belko-ites simply redouble their efforts to stop the prankster and call the police.

And that's when the heads start exploding.

Positive Elements

Those tracking devices? They double as little mini-bombs, and Belko's employees are unwitting, unwilling guinea pigs in a grand, deadly experiment.

It's obvious that no one really wants to take part in this horrific game (though some take to it with a bit too much enthusiasm), and some refuse to play it at all.

Mike Milch serves as the story's pacifistic hero for a time, arguing against mounting odds that you just can't go around killing people, no matter what the voice on the intercom says. "We do not have the right to take any human lives!" He insists, and he's not alone.

Alas, this sort of morality doesn't hold up very well in Belko today.

Spiritual Content

Barry Norris, Belko's chief operating officer, takes a more, um, "pragmatic" stance than Mike. He understands authority, and he believes he has no choice but to obey. And when he and others find a cache of weapons, Barry tells his associates, "He must've put them here."

And who's "he?"

"Our new god," Barry says.

When the voice first sounds on the intercom, someone quips, "Hey, it's Jesus!" We see a woman wearing a headscarf, suggesting she's a Muslim. A crude corncob doll is referred to as a good luck charm. Someone reminds Mike that he believes "life is sacred."

Sexual Content

Mike is having an office romance with young exec Leandra. Before the experiment begins, we see the two in her office: Mike shuts the room's blinds and begins kissing and cuddling with her before Barry walks in. They kiss elsewhere, too. Leandra tells Mike that she'd like to slow things down: She was married once before, and she wants to make sure they're right for each other before she does anything stupid.

But Leandra draws interest from other quarters as well. Fellow exec Wendell Dukes leers at Leandra through office windows. When the two have a private conversation, Wendell suggests that she's attracted to him, too. It's not true, but that doesn't stop Wendell from making more uncomfortable advances toward her.

There's a reference about a dead coworker's sexual habits. Someone talks about the fluids that make a baby. A cubicle dweller with an ant farm teasingly discusses the love life of one of his ants; a friend jokingly says that after a few more bad dates, she might start dating the insect herself.

Before the experiment begins, Barry passes a female coworker. His facial expression suggests that he finds her desirable; her eye-rolling grimace tells us, in no uncertain terms, that she's not interested in him at all. Once the game begins and Barry finds a gun, though, the coworker comes to him. "I know what you want," she says, opening her blouse. We see a bra underneath. Barry walks over to her, and …

Violent Content

… snaps her neck, mumbling under his breath that he needed to save the bullet. Her head is grotesquely twisted backward before the woman crumples to the floor.

And that's just the beginning. About 90 people die during The Belko Experiment—nearly one death for every minute of run time—often in very bloody, very painful ways.

The majority of Belko's casualties are taken out rather quickly by the tracker exploding in the back of their heads. These blasts are always accompanied by spray of gore: Audiences see blood, brain matter and sometimes pieces of skull fly. Barry pokes around in one victim's skull, lifting flaps of skin and prodding the matter within, to determine that he was indeed killed from inside his own head.

Mike tries to remove his own tracker with a box cutter, by the way, slicing into the back of his neck and feeling around in the bloody wound for the device—unsuccessfully, as it turns out. The voice tells him that he'll set off the tracker unless Mike stops trying to pull it out. Someone stitches the cut back together.

Those moments are obviously gruesome. But it's even more horrific when the Belko employees begin killing their own.

Some are essentially executed: On their knees, hands behind their heads, they're dispatched with a single bullet, resulting in a spray of blood. Others are murdered with more gory aplomb. One man hits another in the skull with a wrench, leaving a big cut and a grotesque dent. Someone is stabbed in the gut and allowed to bleed out. That killer then gets shoved onto sharp bits of protruding metal and dies, blood pouring out of his mouth.

One employee takes a hatchet to another's head (we see several blows). An elevator crushes a man. Several Belko workers beat a guy to death. One would-be killer develops an affinity for Molotov cocktails, and he kills at least one person with his incendiary devices. Several victims are shot and killed while running. Others are shot while not running—sometimes plugged with a dizzying number of bullets. Someone's conked with a fire extinguisher. People suffer injuries from explosives. One guy is hacked nearly to death with a bit of desk. Another gets killed by repeated blows of a tape dispenser.

The guards posted outside are no help. One shoots a worker in the hand. Bloody bodies are dragged away, leaving trails of crimson behind. Walls are covered in blood and gore. One scene, featuring skulls bursting just out of the camera's view (we see sprays of gore, but not the heads themselves), seems designed to be horrifically comic.

Crude or Profane Language

About 65 f-words, with another 10 s-words thrown into the mix. God's name is misused about 15 times, at least six of those with the word "d--n." Jesus' name is abused five times. We also hear "a--," "b--ch," "d--n," "h---," "p-ss" and the British profanity "bloody," along with some slang terms for male and female body parts and one extremely crude slang phrase for oral sex.

Drug and Alcohol Content

At least one Belko employee, Marty, sneaks away to smoke marijuana. We see him alone in a bathroom, standing on a toilet and blowing the smoke into a purifying air vent above. Later, he's joined by another employee on Belko's roof to smoke. When another coworker warns Marty that Belko tests for marijuana, he claims to not be worried: the particular strain he's smoking is pretty weak.

When the experiment begins, Marty gets particularly freaked out (presumably because of his impaired state). He begins emptying all Belko's water coolers, declaring that the company put something in the water to make them all go crazy.

Someone's car ashtray contains scads of cigarette butts.

Other Negative Elements

A man vomits while some of his coworkers are executed.

Conclusion

The Belko Experiment makes a weak bid for social relevance—offering dim, bloody commentary on today's figurative dog-eat-dog work environment. Belko's high-paid executives seem to get all the guns at first. And when they decide they have no choice but to execute some of their own employees, the scene takes on the disturbing vibe of a really terrible round of layoffs: Employees over the age of 60 are the first to go, followed by … well, whoever seems randomly expendable to the COO. And it also suggests that, for all our morals, we're only one grand experiment away from shedding them all to save our own skins.

But who are we kidding? This flick is way more concerned with how much blood it can spill in 90 minutes than any point it might care to make along the way. The content we see practically defines the word gratuitous. The film—just like most of Belko's ill-fated employees—is utterly, painfully expendable.

Belko's real experiment may be on moviegoers: Just how much meaningless death can we stomach? Just how much gore can we endure?

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

John Gallagher Jr. as Mike Milch; Tony Goldwyn as Barry Norris; Adria Arjona as Leandra; John C. McGinley as Wendell Dukes; Melonie Diaz as Dany Wilkins; Owain Yeoman as Terry Winter; Sean Gunn as Marty; Brent Sexton as Vince Agostino

Director

Greg McLean ( )

Distributor

Orion Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 17, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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