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Spiderhead review: Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller are wasted in a hotchpotch

Spiderhead highlights that not all exceptional talent collaborations lead to the best results.

  • Aishwarya Vasudevan

Last Updated: 12.20 PM, Jun 17, 2022

Spiderhead review: Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller are wasted in a hotchpotch
Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller in a still from Spiderhead

Inmates wear a surgically connected device that distributes quantities of mind-altering pharmaceuticals in return for commuted sentences in a state-of-the-art jail managed by bright visionary Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth). There aren't any bars, cells, or orange jumpsuits to be found. Volunteers who are incarcerated in Spiderhead are free to be themselves. They'll be until they're not. They're a better version of themselves at times. Do you want to lighten up? There is a medication for that. Do you find yourself at a loss for words? There's also medicine for it. When two patients, Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett), build a bond, their route to redemption becomes more complicated, as Abnesti's experiments begin to stretch the boundaries of free will entirely.


While entertaining us as the God of Thunder, Thor, for nearly a decade, any outing of Chris Hemsworth will make you say, "Take my money right now!". That may have helped his last Netflix outing, Extraction, too. But not just the Australian star, the pumped-up action sequences and the interesting storyline were also impressive additions to it. After two years, Hemsworth is back on Netflix with Spiderhead. The actor dons an ever-charming smile and looks suave throughout the film, and your eyes leave wanting more.

But nowadays, good looks are not enough to keep the story engaging. The title credits of Spiderhead are all pink in colour, with the backdrop of scenic beauty. It gives a teenage rom-com vibe with the 80s and 90s pop songs playing in the background. Well, all we surely know is that this film is anything but a light and breezy flick.

But to establish that point, Spiderhead nearly takes 30 minutes or more. The fun is lost as it keeps on scrolling back to the monotonous lives of inmates, and we get an idea that's how their lives are in the place they are living in.

Taking incarcerated people for human experimentation might sound interesting as they are criminals paying for their heinous crimes. But the sequence of making them guinea pigs in a lab brings nothing new to the table. The humans turn into robots with vials of testing products inserted into them.

From having sex without attachments to screaming for their lives, the inmates do it all. While these are happening, Hemsworth, as Steve Abnesti, watches it like he is enjoying it with a tub of popcorn. His acts with smirks make you agree with his sadism, but no shock value is present there.

All the inmates have to "acknowledge" the experiments being performed on them, and the one who is at the centre of it all is Jeff (Miles Teller). He is up for torture because he is unable to attain atonement for the crime he has committed. So do other inmates.

The thrilling turn takes place much later in the film but is interspersed with a lot of predictable sub-plots. You are left waiting for something interesting and twisted to happen, and alas, it fails to make it even after the end credits.

Spiderhead is based on a story by George Saunders titled Escape from Spiderhead, published in The New Yorker. It might have been an interesting story to be translated onto the screen. However, the script is lost in translation despite having a team of talented writers and directors coming together in the sense of creating some magic.

Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who have collaborated multiple times for movies, mainly the Deadpool franchise, have gotten together for this one too. The director of Top Gun: Maverick, Joseph Kosinski, is the man who helmed Spiderhead.

Well, the above lines are meaty enough for the film to grab viewership on Netflix. Nope, that hasn't happened and we wonder why!

When it comes to performances, Hemsworth is brilliant as the antagonist who is feeding off the sadistic pleasure he gains from torturing the inmates. There's no remorse in what happens, and that has been well-performed by the star.

To match up with him is Teller, who has just been loved for his roles in Top Gun: Maverick as well as The Offer. Having back-to-back releases has worked great for him, as Spiderhead is just unimpressive despite him giving his 100%. Well, it looks like it.

Another good performance is by Jurnee Smollett as Lizzy, who is a fellow inmate and creates a bond with Jeff (Teller).

Spiderhead is hotchpotch and drab, with thrills that serve as undertones and don't come above a certain level at all. In the past couple of years, we have seen this rehabilitation and human experimentation kind of story in Nine Perfect Strangers, as well as Human in Hindi.

The film kind of proves that not all great talents' collaborations bring out the best onscreen.


Chris Hemsworth's sadistic act is fun to watch, but that's not what you should expect from a film like Spiderhead. There's no charm in the screenplay, despite the star power attached to the project both in front of and behind the camera.