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The Belko Experiment


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Faceless executives at corporate headquarters are never crueler to the field office than in "The Belko Experiment" (Orion), a poorly conceived drama that was probably intended as an allegory before wallowing in meaningless gore.

It's simplicity itself, at least. It's terror, set in the Colombian field office of the Belko Corporation, a nonprofit with a vague mission of helping other companies hire American workers.

One morning, there are armed guards who send certain employees away. Right after that, thick metal screens cover the windows, all doors to the outside are locked, and an announcement on the public-address system proclaims that the staff must kill two of its own in the next half-hour, or others will die.

And they do, since the little computer chip embedded in everyone's scalp -- supposedly a deterrent to kidnapping -- can explode, enabling push-button slaughter with extra splatter.

After that, another announcement orders the staff to kill 30 of their own in order for the rest to survive, and full-scale panic and treachery set in. Conveniently for the plot, the building holds a weapons cache, and Barry Norris, the boss (Tony Goldwyn) turns out to be more than willing to rank everyone in terms of value to the company.

Director Greg McLean and screenwriter James Gunn orchestrate a swift descent into screaming, shouting and the kill-or-be-killed ethos after that, with no real moral in place. Caged humans behave like caged animals, but this is hardly revelatory.

The film contains gun and physical violence, continuous gore, and pervasive rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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CAPSULE REVIEW

"The Belko Experiment" (Orion)

Poorly conceived drama about workplace competition, probably intended as an allegory, wallows in meaningless gore. Employees of a Colombia field office of a faceless American corporation are ordered, on the PA system, to start killing each other so that more won't die. Director Greg McLean and screenwriter James Gunn orchestrate a swift descent into screaming, shouting and the kill-or-be-killed ethos. Gun and physical violence, continuous gore, pervasive rough language. Catholic News Service classification, O -- morally offensive. Motion Picture Association of America rating, R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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CLASSIFICATION

"The Belko Experiment" (Orion) -- Catholic News Service classification, O -- morally offensive. Motion Picture Association of America rating, R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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