Cell 211 - On DemandJuly 21, 2010
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: CELL 211 (winner of 8 Spanish Goya Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor). Email Lorisa here.
Director Daniel Monzón’s CELL 211 brings to the screen an intense prison drama that is engaging, suspenseful and compelling. With a carefully crafted storyline and powerfully lensed prison riots, Monzón does an amazing job creating a heightened tension between the characters battling within the prison walls and the outsiders gathered to protest the mayhem.
Prison guard Juan Oliver (Alberto Ammann) finds himself trapped on the wrong side of the bars in CELL 211. While touring the prison with his colleagues, Juan becomes stranded among the harshest and most violent criminals when a calculated riot breaks out.
He is introduced to Malamadre (Luis Tosar) who is the mastermind behind the revolt and his cohorts, Tachuela (Vicente Romero) and unhinged Releches (Luis Zahera) and must gain the gang’s trust by pretending to be a fellow inmate if he wants to stay alive.
Ammann and Tosar do an excellent job of exploring their characters’ strengths and vulnerability during the time of instability and chaos, which enables them to fully understand each other. Ammann plays a sharp guy who uses his wits to fight for survival, and Tosar’s portrayal of the “all bad” Malamadre demonstrates that he is not as heartless as he wants people to believe.
Tosar makes an entirely convincing, charismatic leader while successfully showing a more tender side in his protection of Juan. In the beginning, these two men seem to have nothing in common, but as time moves on, they must learn to depend on one another to make it out of this difficult set of circumstances.
As the tension builds, unlikely heroes emerge, demonstrating that vulnerability does exist within the hearts of the most callous individuals. Like a chemistry set, Monzón weaves together all of the key ingredients of a fantastic thriller, creating a wonderfully intelligent and challenging film.
- Lorisa Bates
Lorisa Bates is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly.