Answering a classified ad in the newspaper, dozens of men line up, are tested and apply to win a spot in The Experiment. With pay of $1,000 per day and a two week experiment, it’s not difficult to figure out why these men decided to get into the program. Once they are selected, the 26 men are split into two groups. The prisoners, and the guards. There are simple, yet strict rules that each participant must follow through on in order for everyone to get paid. What results is humans at their most base level in a predictable and completely surface level film.
Adrian Brody stars as prisoner 77. He’s joined the experiment for the money and his hope to meet Maggie Grace in India when he’s finished. The entire love story between the two is silly and really not worth the little time it’s given. The problem 77 gets into is he doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut. Once he’s in the prison he’s constantly complaining about not liking the food or the prisoners not being nice to certain people who lied to get into the experiment. He really does just need to shut up and go along with the experiment, that’s his job, that’s what he’s getting paid to do.
Forest Whitaker plays the man in charge, the prison guard Barris. Barris is unique from the majority of the group as he’s doing this because of his mother. He claims he is wanting to pay for her medical bills but it’s clearly shown that she treats him poorly and he’s doing this for a chance to get away and to become a man. Barris takes things too far which leads to the dissolution of order within this prison. Whitaker is solid in the performance, one that I saw a lot of Jon Kavanagh in this performance where he’s playing a man slightly off center.
The problem with the movie is first off there is nothing below the surface. The writer/director Paul Scheuring is not trying to say anything with this film. It’s not trying to be anything other than an exercise in showing what happens when men are around each other for too long. The next problem is what’s the point of the experiment? The people in charge are shown very briefly and I didn’t exactly get what the point of the movie or experiment was. For a company that’s giving out $14,000 to each man, they don’t seem to have much interest in discovering anything. Finally, I guess what’s really the point of the film? It’s not really showing the audience something it hasn’t seen about a million times before. You mean people that don’t know each other will be mean if there is money on the line and other people tell them to? Shocking. It’s a silly film with some decent actors in it but frankly it’s not worth your time.