Brawl in Cell Block 99

A former drug dealer goes to extremes in order to save his wife and child, in brutal prison thriller.

Screenings

Director | S. Craig Zahler

USA | 2017

132 minutes

IMDB

With | Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Udo Kier, Don Johnson

Language | English

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Ex drug dealer Bradley works as a courier for kingpin Gil. When a deal for a Mexican connection ends badly, Bradley turns himself in, saving Gil. Once in prison, his wife is kidnapped and the Mexicans order Bradley to kill a man in Cell Block 99 of a maximum security prison. Brutal and stylish descent into hell, with a superb lead from Vince Vaughn.

This is a real exploitation film, not just a riff on the genre but a great addition to the list. The fact that the violence is over the top doesn't feel like a gimmick – even though it’s not without laughs - but a necessary part of the narrative, as it did in Bone Tomahawk (Imagine 2016). Bradley’s descent from a well-off family man into the seedy underbelly of prison life represents how far (or how deep) he’s willing to go for love and principle. Vince Vaughn is terrific, being both brutal (to the extreme) and dignified. Udo Kier and Don Johnson shine in their cameo roles as well.