The Netflix R-Rated Dark Violent Crime Thriller Is Not For The Faint Of Heart

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The 2017 neo-noir prison action thriller Brawl in Cell Block 99 is available on Netflix. Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, the movie stars Vince Vaughn as Bradley Thomas, a drug courier who finds himself in increasingly dire situations. Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Marc Blucas, and Tom Guiry appear in supporting roles.

Vince Vaughn As Bradley Thomas

Brawl in Cell Block 99 begins when Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn) loses his auto repair shop job and finds out that his wife Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter) is having an affair. Bradley channels his anger by dismantling Lauren’s car, symbolizing the breakdown of his once-stable life. He then returns to drug trafficking, a decision that sets off an unfortunate series of events.Brawl in Cell Block 99 jumps 18 months into the future, and Bradley, alongside a pregnant Lauren, has seemingly found stability in the criminal underworld. However, this newfound life takes a dark turn when Bradley is thrust into a dangerous situation orchestrated by a shady business associate named Eleazar (Dion Mucciacito).

Difficult Decisions Behind Bars

Forced into a police trap during a drug deal, Bradley’s world unravels, leading to his arrest and a seven-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. Inside the walls of Redleaf prison, Bradley faces an impossible choice when Eleazar’s henchmen threaten the life of his unborn child. Brawl in Cell Block 99 explores Bradley’s moral struggle as he is forced to assassinate an inmate to protect his family.

A Brutal And Realistic Depiction Of Prison Life

Under the direction of Zahler, Brawl in Cell Block 99 masterfully navigates the brutal prison environment, showcasing Bradley’s resilience and resourcefulness as he confronts sadistic wardens, hostile inmates, and a mysterious target. The story takes an unexpected turn as Bradley’s quest for redemption turns into a savage confrontation with Eleazar and his gang.Principal photography for Brawl in Cell Block 99 began in August 2016 and concluded in October of that same year. Filmed in Staten Island, New York City, the schedule proved demanding, requiring the film crew to navigate multiple locations within a single day. Despite facing challenges such as losing locations during the shoot, the crew actively sought new settings during their lunch breaks.

Box Office Turnout

Brawl in Cell Block 99 debuted at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in September 2017. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics who praised Vince Vaughn’s performance and the film’s brutal and visceral approach to violence. The slow and deliberate pacing and intense and realistic fight scenes added to its unique appeal.

The film hit theaters on October 6, 2017, followed by its release on digital HD and video on demand on October 13, 2017. Due to its limited theatrical run, Brawl in Cell Block 99 earned a modest $79,000 at the global box office against a budget of $4 million. Despite the dismal ticket takings, the film still holds a 90 percent critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and a 74 percent audience rating.

Stream Brawl In Cell Block 99 On Netflix

Although Vince Vaughn underwent a physical transformation for the role, losing weight and gaining muscle to portray the physically imposing character of Bradley Thomas, Brawl in Cell Block 99  is more than just a violent thriller. The movie is a character study that explores the consequences of choices made in the face of adversity.