PREMISE AND BACKSTORY
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) stars Vince Vaughn (Swingers, Wedding Crasher), plays Brandley Thomas, a recently fired auto mechanic. His wife, Lauren Thomas (played by Jennifer Carpenter, Dexter, White Chicks) is a substitute teacher whose assignments have slowed down significantly. To make money, Bradley becomes a runner for drug dealers. 18 months later Bradley and Lauren have moved out of their shooty house into a nice size home and Lauren is six months pregnant.
One of his well-to-do drug dealers, Gill (Marc Blucas, Necessary Roughness, Underground) wants Bradley to work with another drug dealer, and his two runners, Pedro and Ramon. Bradley is comprehensive about working with the new runners due to him having a bad feeling about them. However, his boss promises Bradley two months off and baby support, but Bradley wants three months off along with the baby support. His boss agrees and the partnership is on. What could possibly go wrong when you go against your instinct in lieu of what seems like a good deal?
Take Gil’s boat out into the middle of the water, dive for a trunk that is chained at the bottom and bring it to the surface. Remove its contents and take it back to Gil. Again, what could possibly go wrong? How about cops showing up, a shootout ensues between Ramon, Pedro and the cops. Instead of Bradley continuing to walk in the opposite direction of the action, he walks back towards the action and gets arrested.
Bradley is sentenced to seven years in a medium security prison.
AND NOW THE FUN BEGINS
This is where I won’t provide details of Bradley’s stay in the prison as I did with on the outside, for this is where I hope you are wanting to watch the movie. Also, this is where I say to you that this movie is worth watching, if not for Vaughn’s stellar acting in a drama. But I will set things up for you. As mentioned, Bradley gets sentenced to a medium security prison. However, he must find his way to Red Leaf Maximum security prison and quickly. This is where cell block 99 is located.
Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges) does a fine job as Warden Tuggs of Red Leaf. He prefers the term minimum freedom as opposed to maximum security.
Vince Vaughn was stellar in this role. Most know him as a funny guy who plays in comedy movies. My favorite by him is Wedding Crashers. But Wedding Crashers is the only Vince Vaughn movie I’ve seen and will ever watch for I don’t find him that funny and worth my time watching. Until now.
As mentioned Vaughn was stellar as Bradley Thomas. I hope to see Vaughn in more grittier roles such as Brawl in Cell Block 99. Don Johnson, as sadistic Warden Tubbs, was equally as good with calm demeanor when dishing out threats. The movie, overall, was well made. It did come through as an indie film made on a low budget, yet with good cinematography. I could be wrong (about it being low budget), but this is my observation.
This is definitely a movie I will watch again just for the acting by Vaughn. If you’re a Vaughn fan because of his comedies, this might not be the movie for you, for after watching this you won’t see him in the same comedic light. If you’re not a fan of Vaughn, such as myself, this might be the movie for you in which you might gain respect for Vaughn as an actor and not just someone who plays in mindless comedies (minus Wedding Crashers).
Brawl In Cell Block 99 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.