Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsTIFF 2017: Brawl in Cell Block 99 Review

Keith NoakesSeptember 13, 2017

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here. Check out my Instagram page for pictures of the premiere.

Synopsis: A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly. (IMDB)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, and Don Johnson

Writer: S. Craig Zahler

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Rating: n/a

Running Time: 132mins


You definitely haven’t seen Vince Vaughn like this before. Here he plays a former boxer named Bradley Thomas who was thrust into a tough situation where he is forced to literally brawl his way through prison. It was tough for him as he would rather not hurt people if he didn’t have to. The film doesn’t give us much about Thomas’ past but it became evident as to why he would now act this way as Thomas definitely packs a wallop with everything he does. As a result, the film becomes extremely violent, however, this violence never felt gratuitous as there was a purpose behind everything Bradley did.

The problem with this film was that it took so long to get going which may leave some people feeling bored. The story didn’t matter that much either in the grand scheme. Vaugn’s deadpan, nonchalant performance made it difficult to care about Thomas as a character but seeing him beat people up was still satisfying to watch. The fight choreography was the best part of the film because of its sheer inventiveness when it came to how Thomas took care of his opponents. The film was also slightly too long, clocking in at over 2 hours, so some of the quieter moments could have been cut out.

Overall, this was a film that will surely be a cult classic for some but it was difficult to get into. Vaughn’s performance was definitely a departure for him and the fighting was satisfying to watch but it would have been nice to have a little more substance behind it.

Score: 5.5/10

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