Spiderhead Movie Review: Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller’s Netflix Film is A Black Mirror-esque Tale About Redemption With an Inescapable Tonal Whiplash (LatestLY Exclusive)

Spiderhead Movie Review: Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller’s Netflix Film is A Black Mirror-esque Tale About Redemption With an Inescapable Tonal Whiplash (LatestLY Exclusive)

Spiderhead Movie Review: Going into Spiderhead, I didn’t know what to expect as my knowledge of the film prior to its release was very limited. Not having even seen the trailer and having only read the premise, I expected a very serious and symbolical thriller that would present for some very deep and cautionary discussions, but what I got was substantially different. The questions are still very much present here, but the tone is completely, and for the lack of a better word, bonkers, which is both the movie’s strength and also its weakness. Spiderhead: Makers Release New Clip Starring Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Mark Paguio and Tess Haubrich (Watch Video).

Directed by Joseph Kosinski of Top Gun: Maverick fame and written by Deadpool scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, Spiderhead is a film based on the short story Escape From Spiderhead by George Saunders. It follows Jeff (Miles Teller), a convict, who volunteered to be sent to the Spiderhead penitentiary to be experimented on with emotion-altering drugs so he could get his prison sentence reduced. The penitentiary is run by one Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) and sees him administer these drugs on the convicts and note down their effects.

A Still From Spiderhead (Photo Credit: Netflix)

Joseph Kosinski is coming off the hot track lately after directing Top Gun: Maverick, and here, he presents another visual treat, although that’s very much contained. While TGM focused a lot on the huge spectacles, Spiderhead sees him bring down the stakes and make it more personal. He is able to direct the scenes and the cast with a lot of care and still make it look compelling in a visual sense. So much of that has to do with the set design of the film. It isn’t overblown or complicated but rather keeping it simple with a dash of futuristic charm.

Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick also bring their classic sense of humour to this dystopian tale and that’s what surprised me the most. There are a lot of serious character moments here, but so much of it is presented in a fun-like manner and that help keeps up the illusion of what’s going on. When you take a look at the context of everything, there is definitely a dark and grim underline within, but it doesn’t feel off-setting in any manner. If anything, it made Spiderhead all the more unique.

Watch The Trailer:

It also helps that at times Spiderhead doesn’t take itself seriously. There is a drug in here that makes people laugh uncontrollably and It’s called Laffodil. That’s very goofy and adds a sense of levity. At times, Spiderhead also very much feels like a 105 minutes long Black Mirror episode. We see these convicts locked in a facility doing daily tasks and honouring their contract. It very much reminded me of the Fifteen Million Merits episode, only difference being that the episode actually leaned into its grimness rather than put on a farce and make it look like everything is fine, at which Spiderhead revels.

In that presentation of a farce, we have the mastermind behind it in Chris Hemsworth’s Steve Abnesti. Riffing on modern day gurus who promise a better tomorrow while failing to see all the negative aspects of their approach, Hemsworth probably gives one of his career’s best performances here. Presenting himself as a very punchable sociopath, you can always feel a certain tinge of manipulation coming off from him that’s masked beneath layers of charm and good looks.

A Still From Spiderhead (Photo Credit: Netflix)

Teller reteams with Kosinski here and plays the role of Jeff. His story is very much that of redeeming himself as a tragic past is showcased. Everyone in the Spiderhead penitentiary has something to repent for, but Teller carries his past nightmares on his shoulders and walks around with the weight of them. In that, he meets Lizzy who is portrayed by Jurnee Smollett, and she has a lot in similar with Jeff. Smollett plays the role in a similar fashion as well, and Teller and she have quite the chemistry. The emotions portrayed on screen here make for a very compelling watch, and help heighten the effect of these characters.

The original soundtrack and score are quite well selected and composed. While the soundtrack feels like a selection of the greatest hits, the score has a synth overlay to it that adds a certain dash of cyberpunk to it too. Here is hoping Joseph Trapanese’s soundtrack is made available.

A Still From Spiderhead (Photo Credit: Netflix)

However, for all the things that it does well, Spiderhead isn’t able to find a right balance between the seriousness and the fun side of things. The tonal whiplash ends up being presented over here and there then is further carried onto its ending. Lightyear Movie Review: Chris Evans’ Toy Story Spinoff Is An Enjoyable Space Odyssey That, Sadly, Lacks the Pixar Heart (Fresh Headline Exclusive).

While the potential of its plot was being built up, the ending knocks it down like wind blowing down a house of cards. It loses the sight of itself and creates for something where the stakes just vanish. It’s the last 15 minutes that really squander the experience. Where something bold could have been achieved, the movie, sadly, settles for a more storybook-like ending.


The Cast

Kosinski’s Direction


The Ending

Final Thoughts

Spiderhead makes for a fun afternoon watch that’s bolstered by Chris Hemsworth’s performance. While the ending might break the movie for many, it still presents many interesting ideas that make watching this dystopian tale worth it. Spiderhead is streaming on Netflix right now.

(The above story first appeared on Fresh Headline on Jun 17, 2022 07:44 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website freshheadline.com).