Netflix has been riding high on the success of Hustle, the highly reviewed, highly watched Adam Sandler drama where he mentors an up and coming basketball player. But now, after a week at #1 on the Netflix top 10 list, it has lost its spot to a new movie, and a new A-lister.
Sliding into the #1 spot for its debut is Spiderhead, which stars Chris Hemsworth, another Netflix venture after Extraction, and Top Gun’s Miles Teller. Here’s the official synopsis, which has Hemsworth playing a genius, rather than an action hero for a change:
“In a state-of-the-art penitentiary run by brilliant visionary Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth), inmates wear a surgically attached device that administers dosages of mind-altering drugs in exchange for commuted sentences. There are no bars, no cells, or orange jumpsuits. In Spiderhead, incarcerated volunteers are free to be themselves. Until they’re not. At times, they’re a better version. Need to lighten up? There’s a drug for that. At a loss for words? There’s a drug for that, too. But when two subjects, Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett), form a connection, their path to redemption take a twistier turn, as Abnesti’s experiments start to push the limits of free will altogether.”
Spiderhead is actually based on a short story, Escape from Spiderhead, by George Saunders, and so far is…not reviewing great. The movie has a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, but before you say “what do critics know??” audience scores are similarly low. 41% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.5/10 on IMDB. Not great all around.
It’s a little surprising, given that the movie is from director Joseph Kosinski reuniting with Miles Teller right after Top Gun: Maverick, the absolute runaway hit, a box office smash and beloved by critics with a 97% on RT. But that same magic is not apparent in Spiderhead. The writers here were from past Deadpool movies and another Netflix critical bomb, 6 Underground. Meanwhile, Peter Craig wrote Top Gun Maverick, and he’s worked on The Batman and The Town. A bit better.
Again, it’s anyone’s guess what you’re going to get with Netflix original movies these days. It does have a few gems, as Hustle recently proved, but you can also have some absolute bombs, where terrible movies like 365 Days and its sequel, and the recent Interceptor have both topped the charts before. It’s a shame, given that Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction was absolutely fantastic, but he needs a few additional ingredients to replicate that success it seems, and he’s not enough to carry a project. Where’s that Extraction sequel, by the way?
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