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Review: Cell 211

Monzón's intense look at prison culture
By ZAK JASON  |  October 20, 2010
3.0 3.0 Stars

 

It's an outrageous, impossible story. Juan Oliver (Alberto Ammann), a prison guard, falls unconscious during a riot on his first day of work. When he awakes, he knows he must pretend to be a prisoner to survive. From this premise, director Daniel Monzón crafts a hard-boiled, lightning-paced look into prison culture. Malamadre (Luis Tosar), a tattoo'd hybrid of Vin Diesel and Danny Trejo, runs the block like a general, orchestrating coordinates and assigning positions for an inmate uprising. Juan's pregnant wife, Elena (Marta Etura), learns of the situation from the TV news, whereupon she joins hundreds of the prisoners' families outside the prison demanding answers. Monzón juggles several intense narrative lines, bouncing from inside the cell block to the prison guards and the warden (who keep in touch with Juan via security cameras and walkie-talkies), and then to Elena's efforts to enter the prison and her flashbacks to better days with Juan.

  Topics: Reviews , film review, Luis Tosar
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