26 men are chosen to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control.
Adrian Brody and Forest Whitaker star in the action thriller “The Experiment”. As we are introduced to Adrian as Travis, we find him a peace rallyist who has just lost his job. He meets a like minded girl name Kelly who shares his passion for life. Though, life is about to change at least for 2 weeks when he answers an ad that is looking for 26 men who will participate in a social experiment. It is in this interview process that he makes friends with another applicant Barris played by Forest Whitaker. They go thru a series of tests and interviews that establish their individual profiles which land them the opportunity to participate in what is being called an experiment. For 2 weeks at $1000 a day, the men are asked to play by the rules, do as instructed as they are taken to a remote location. The Experiment is a simulated prison environment where half of the team are chosen as the guards and the other half are chosen to be prisoners. All seems fine and playful at times as they all assume their new roles with the interest of making a nice payback in return. They are also instructed that no one can leave and no violence will be tolerated or the experiment will end and they will “all” lose the money.
I think the results of what transpires are pretty expected. We have a sense that as time goes on, the roles will start to weigh on them and a conflicts will arise. Paul Scheuring, I believe knew this going in, as the intro credits show us clips of violence between men and between animals. This is also reinforced later as the test subjects are subjected to these visions. The attraction in this film is that we expect a certain level of breaking points to occur depending on the personalities involved. In other words, a sense of enough is enough we know we can’t get hurt and we know that we are here to get paid. It also demonstrates the psychological breakdown of morals and personal convictions that can unravel when the environment it’s suddenly changed upon us.
Though what the experiment proves is that barriers get broken down and the reality begins to overshadow the illusion. “The Experiment” sets out to prove that its within our nature to adapt and to assume a certain level of expected behavior bases on isolation and base on circumstances. Days pass and the assumptions of authority and what is right and wrong get blurred in this simulated reality that becomes real for all of them. The performances by Adrian and Forest set the drama in play and the conflict that ensues to the very end. “The Experiment is a smart, emotion- filled action drama that ignites the screen. The tension of going too far is always at the back of your mind as the motions play out.
The details of the film cite this as a remake of the 2001 film titled “Das Experiment”. A film I remember by cover but have never seen. It also goes to cite that this movie is a remake of a movie based on a book that was inspired by the real-life Stanford prison experiment. The set is located in Des Moines, Iowa which feels exactly right for the intention of the film.