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Animal Factory (15)



Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None listed.

RON Decker (Terminator 2 star Edward Furlong) is a privileged, Beverley Hills boy who has been sentenced to two years in the notorious San Quentin prison for dealing drugs.

He is young, he is handsome and he is naïve; he is therefore a target for penal-predators.

Luckily, before anything too unpleasant happens to him, Ron is befriended by Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe), who, after 18 years inside, is king of the cell-blocks, and under his guidance, Ron learns how to deal with life in this grim, new world.

When Ron’s appeal against his sentence fails, he and Earl decide to escape….

Over the years Steve Buscemi has made a name for himself as both actor and director through his involvement with a string of off-the wall, art-house movies (including Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, Trees Lounge and Ghost World).

Strange then that this film, which Buscemi directed, should be so lacking in the kind of original, oddball touches that have become his trademark.

Instead, what we get is a straightforward drama, based on the book of the same name by Edward Bunker, about a young man learning to deal with the brutality of prison life.

Fair enough, as that sort of film goes, this is perfectly acceptable.

The direction and the story telling are taut and the action is tough, with the vaguest hint of tender. And while Dafoe hardly breaks sweat in the leading role, his presence is strong enough to carry the story.

The problem is there is nothing here, except perhaps for Mickey Rourke in false eyelashes and a basque – an inspired piece of casting, that hasn’t been seen a million times before in genre pieces such as Shawshank Redemption.

So unless you’re a prison-movie virgin, in which case you will probably enjoy this, spend your entrance money on something else.

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