Spiderhead, on Netflix: after Top Gun Maverick, Joseph Kosinski signs a laborious SF thriller

With Miles Teller and a freewheeling Chris Hemsworth.

Whereas Top Gun: MaverickJoseph Kosinski’s previous film, is still ravaging the box office all over the world, here is already for him the hour of the “after movie”: Spiderhead, a Netflix-labeled sci-fi thriller starring Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller. Not so much a sign of creative bulimia on the part of the director as the consequence of the post-COVID release jam – the filming of Spiderhead began at the end of 2020, the year in which Top Gun 2 was originally due to be released in theaters. The film, moreover, has the confined look and cloistered atmosphere of those canned works as the industry learned to work under sanitary protocols – behind closed doors, a handful of characters, and walls to stand against. bump your head.

In an ultra-secret detention center, whose architecture evokes the landmark of a James Bond villain, or the setting of a new Christopher Nolan, nestles the high-tech lab of a supercharged scientist (Chris Hemsworth) , who experiments with synthetic drugs on prisoners who have agreed to play guinea pigs (including Miles Teller, in his third Joseph Kosinski in a row after line of fire and Top Gun: Maverick). The drugs in question bear evocative names (Lovactine, Ténébraxx…) and aim to transform the behavior, emotions and feelings of the subjects, as in a kind of chemical variation on the Milgram experiment. But are the intentions of the suave scholar as noble as he claims?

Adapted from a short story by writer George Saunders published in the New Yorker (the venerable New York magazine also produces the film via its film division), Spiderhead unfolds his SF story without charm or mystery. The vague interest aroused by the premise of the plot evaporates very quickly, the fault of an anemic pace, a total absence of suspense, and the freewheeling performance of Chris Hemsworth, somewhere between the arched tech-guru , the bespectacled Wall Street wolf and the cocaine-ridden Dr. Strangelove, who wiggles to Roxy Music after dark. The actor’s difficulties in making his mad scientist character believable are connected with a film that never finds its tone, between vaguely psychic “prophetic” SF and black comedy punctuated by FM hits from the 70s and 80s, used ironically ( Supertramp, Hall and Oates, and Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science” as an anthem). One will recognize here and there elements borrowed from The Islandat black-mirrorat the Alex Garland ofEx Machina and of Devsas well as this kind of technophile neo-expressionism that already agitated the director’s first two features, TRON: Legacy and oblivion… But we prefer Kosinski when he dialogues with the ghost of Tony Scott.

Spiderhead, by Joseph Kosinski, with Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett… Duration 1h47. On Netflix.

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