Cell 211 is the Spanish equivalent of the myriad This Is England cum Lock, Stock… hardcase British crime films, which affect contemplative, moral maturity while revelling in the violence they depict: by its nature, socially and societally abhorrent. A prison security guard is being shown around his place of work in advance of his first working day (in plain clothes) before being knocked unconscious by a falling brick and, in a sequence of events too convoluted to explain and review the film at the same time (restrictive word-count not permitting), ends up having to disguise himself as a prisoner to survive the full-scale riot which coincidentally erupts. He is so good at disguising himself that he becomes a leading figure in the semi-organised unrest, cosying up to “Malamadre”, the bald and scary man who serves as unofficial leader of the block. The prisoners are rioting over the illegal and immoral treatment they suffer at the hands of the guards/state, apparently, and the film dares to ask the question of whether it is the prisoners or the fat-cats who are the real violent criminals. If you like black velvet paintings, you’ll probably like this.
Words: Oisín Murphy