An overdose of a drug thriller.
Fresh off his success with “Top Gun: Maverick,” director Jospeh Kosinski has another movie also with Miles Teller in the cast. It’s called “Spiderhead,” and unlike that amazing movie, this one is released on Netflix, and is very bad. It’s a drug thriller that lacks the intelligence and style of “Limitless,” and the story makes no sense at all.
The story is set in the future, when a facility holds prisoners who are given the chance to have their sentences reduced if they test some emotion-altering drugs. Chris Hemsworth stars as Steve Abnesti, the prison overseer, who runs the experiments, and Teller is a test subject named Jeff, who might be more valuable than anticipated.
During the experiments, Jeff is basically a sex machine, because of the drugs. It’s so typical that a drug thriller would cater to audiences who either think sex is funny or obligatory in movies. As Roger Ebert once said: “Kinky sex is funny, only when it’s taken seriously.” He was applying to the comedy bomb “Exit to Eden.” I’m no applying to “Spiderhead,” which resorts to that little subplot, which has no payoff and just has us asking: “Really?.”
And those drugs may chance the way people function in society. No more crazies, no more monsters, no more bad people. I can’t guarantee that since Steve is prone to be a bad person.
Steve thinks about the future, while Jeff thinks about his tragic past when he got his friends killed in a DUI accident. But of course, every experiment has side effects. Jeff refuses to get more women roped into the experiment, but Steve is willing to make the world a better place.
The movie also wants a romantic side as Jeff is falling in love with this fellow inmate (Jurnee Smollett), who may be a victim of the experiment or she could have a darker secret. Or a bit of both.
I’m not sure I explained the plot of “Spiderhead,” because it goes all over the place with the drugs and the side effects, and the fact that they may be mind controlling devices or whatever the Hell those things are revealed to be. Parts of the movie has Hemsworth being taken seriously, especially a scene when he has to say “F***” in an aggravated way, but most of the film basically has him, Teller, and Smollett floundering about, and it’s the same thing happening over and over again.
You also get a hot soundtrack with hits by Hall & Oates, Roxy Music, and Thomas Dolby, which usually plays on an iPhone, the same one that controls the test subjects. But you can listen to these songs on your own terms, instead of seeing “Spiderhead” on Netflix to hear them.
Kosinski is a talented filmmaker, and “Top Gun: Maverick” is recent proof of that, because of how he was able to guide the A-list cast on the right path, especially when trying to live up to the late Tony Scott’s expectations. That film is breaking box office records, and we all loved it for what it was on the inside. The said can’t be said with “Spiderhead,” which might work on an alternate level, but really succumbs to watch movie-goers wants. Maybe this will reach Number 1 on Netflix this weekend, or it’ll be beaten by other things. But this won’t hold up the way “Top Gun: Maverick” is right now.
Streaming on Netflix and In Select Theaters Tomorrow.