Celda 211 * Daniel Monzón (2009)

Taken from the shelf several times and put back in favor of another title every time until yesterday. Juan got a job in a prison for the heavier criminals. The day before he starts he already goes to his new job to make an impression. During the tour, riots break out and Juan gets wounded by the first explosion. Improvising, his colleagues put Juan in a free cell so that they can figure out what is goes on. Soon there proves to be a full blown riot and all guards flee to the savety zone, safe for one, and Juan… Juan manages to portray himself as a new inmate and a strange relationship develops with the leader of the riot, Malamadre.
“Celda 211” (or “cell 211” in English, the cell in which Juan is put, but which was also the stage for the event that (partly) lead to the riots) is a hard action film in which heavy criminals are on the loose. The tension comes mostly from Juan’s navigating among the inmates. How long before they find out that he is not actually one of them? Some drama is added with Juan’s wife who (outside) tries to find out what happened to her husband. The film is not always convincing. Why does the public riot outside? Because they fear for their family that is are inside as inmates (and who started the riots in the first place)? Juan’s fellow inmates need a hell of a lot of clues before they realise Juan’s ‘role’; but most of all, the ‘end conclusion’ is extremely weak (and unnecessary). The atmosphere is good though and I guess it is quite realistic in showing how rumours and terror go around in a confined space such as a prison. The violence is comparable to the break-out scene of “Natural Born Killers” (safe for the gruesome opening scene). Not a bad film.

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