‘The Belko Experiment’ review: Film is all gore, no substance

There are a few fundamental rules in life: Don’t lie, cheat or steal; treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated; care for the neediest.

You could add to that list this fundamental truism: if your place of potential employment mandates installing a tracking chip in your skull as a condition of being hired, go work somewhere else.

If only the employees in “The Belko Experiment” had heeded that advice, they could have been spared the brutal “Battle Royale”-like ordeal they’re subjected to in this torturous exercise in pointless graphic violence masquerading as a movie with value and purpose.

That’s because those chips implanted in their brains have been primed to explode, you see, and so when a mysterious voice appears over the intercom and informs the mostly-American workers of Belko Industries in Bogota, Colombia, that 60 of them will die if the employees don’t kill 30 among themselves, well, there’s not much of a recourse.

That’s the fundamental convolution that sets in motion this repugnant mess, an orgy of extreme killing that fails as a serious film about the psychology of groupthink, a dark satire of office politics, or anything else intended by screenwriter James Gunn and director Greg McLean beyond trading in base, cheap thrills.

A film has to earn the right to revel in relentless gore, especially when it’s depicted in a realistic workplace and evokes images that sometimes skew uncomfortably close to the evening news.

There needs to be something more than the sheer spectacle of fine character actors like Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley and others butchering their colleagues in every conceivable way.

“The Belko Experiment”

Directed by Greg McLean

Starring Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley, Adria Arjona

Rated R

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