dir: Joseph Kosinski
One of the most chilling things I’ve ever read was on the summary for this flick on Netflix. Let me get it word-for-word, so that I can convey the absolute horror of these words belonging in the same sentence:
“From the writers of Deadpool based on the George Saunders short story.”
That’s like getting on a flight and finding out that the pilot is going to be Boris Johnston, who despite never having flown a plane before is sure he can do a bang up job.
George Saunders is an exquisite writer of short stories, books, IKEA catalogues - anything he writes is pure gold. Letting two screenwriters, possibly using mountains of cocaine in order to stay motivated, attack one of his stories should be considered a literary hate crime.
I genuinely remember reading the short story this is based on, having picked up Tenth of December back in the day when everyone was buying it but few people were actually bothering to read all the stories inside it. This story, Escape from Spiderhead, stood out as one of the more memorable ones.
Within the story, a prisoner volunteers to be experimented on by drug company goons. The drug reps are unseen, bland, corporate functionaries. Their testing is apathetic, doesn’t care about the crims or their longevity at all, and just about getting results.
Despite being science fiction, obviously, with chemical tech significantly ahead of where we are today, it was less about whether people should be conducting experiments like this on people, regardless of whether they’re crims or not, and more about the limits of what people will accept, will comply with.
In this flick, well, they’ve been given an inch of a good story, and they’ve turned it into miles and miles of opportunities for many, many bad ideas to come to the fore.