Peter Lafleur is down on his luck once again, and this time he’s going to need a lot more than a dodgeball tournament to get his life back on track. And that “more” is of course drug running and murder. Brawl in Cell Block 99 is like if Tarantino, the good understated aspects of M Night Shyamalan (not the twists, there are no twists), and Sophie’s Choice got together and had a horrible prison baby. It’s a movie that makes you reflect on your own sense of morality by all but forcing you to sympathize with a literal monster. And it does this with a series of pushing, overstepping, and then falling back into our preestablished concepts of justified actions in movies. Similar to Logan Lucky, for example, our hero begins the story down on his luck, and so we allow him to turn to illegal activities to support his family and get his life back on track. Similar to Walter White, he has an instinctual knowledge that keeps him one step ahead of the law, and we at least respect that. Similar to John Wick or Taken, he’s got one thing he cares about, and so we allow ourselves to justify his actions as a means of protecting that. But the movie does all it can to complicate those previously set standards. To start, he is all too quick to fall into a life of crime. His first instinct after losing his job isn’t “I’ll file for unemployment and find a similar position” it’s “get me drugs to transport. Now.” It almost makes you wonder why he hadn’t just been doing that at the start of the movie. Despite his strong instincts, he’s really quick to ignore them. Also, where Taken uses fast cutting and CGI to detach us from the impact of Neeson’s murders, and John Wick dehumanizes the enemy as dog killing gangsters that we want dead anyway, Brawl establishes a rapport with victims before they become, you know, victims. And mid fight, it draws out the process with cut-less takes and encompassing long shots, played out with gruesome choreography so you see every little detail. This was a great watch, I strongly recommend it. I can’t wait to check out Bone Tomahawk and see what Zahler does next. And also, we can never again dog Vince Vaughn for not playing against type.