We’re getting a very different look at Vince Vaughn in October. In the new movie Brawl in Cell Block 99 Vaughn stars as Bradley Thomas. He’s a former boxer who loses his job and his marriage is about to fall apart. Out of options he turns to his old friend to be a drug currier. It works out okay until he ends up badly hurt after getting caught in a gunfight with the police and his allies. Thomas ends up in prison where things only get worse. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly director-writer S. Craig Zahler talked about the movie.
“We see him living a better life, where he’s purposefully turning a blind eye to the problems that he facilitates with his job,” says Zahler, whose debut film was 2015’s Kurt Russell-starring cannibal-western, Bone Tomahawk. “He eventually gets into a gunfight during a drug deal situation, and that lands him in jail, and his life only gets worse from there.”
So how much brawling is in this movie with “brawl” in the title? Turns out there is in fact a lot of brawling in Brawl In Cell Block 99.
“There is a quite a bit,” says the filmmaker. “But there is, as with Bone Tomahawk, a similar emphasis on character. I’m not in any hurry to get to the brawling, but when you land there, you will know it, and it happens for a fairly sustained period of time. Vince Vaughn was so committed to this movie and he happens to have some boxing experience which really really helped. He was skilled enough that [we could film] a shot where it was going to be five hits exchanged, 10 hits exchanged, 15 hits exchanged, 20 hits exchanged, with no cuts.”
We also get the fantastic Don Johnson in there to be a warden that isn’t looking to make things easy for anyone.
“There’s a higher-up in a prison named Warden Tuggs and Don does a fantastic job in bringing this character to life as someone who handles different people as an animal handler would handle different animals,” says Zahler. “I grew up in Miami in the ’80s and, if you were in Miami at that time, Don Johnson was walking on the plateau of God-hood. It was a terrific thrill to be working with him. He had everything he did when he was younger — he’s just as good-looking, just as charismatic, his voice is slightly richer and better — but then it’s all the refinement and subtlety that comes from the experience he has.”
The poster was released and it’s quite a striking image to look at. It certainly sets the tone for the entire movie and tells us a lot without specifically saying anything.
“I like to show what’s in the piece and/or of interest people in the piece,” says Zahler. “And to me, that head, and that cross on the back of the head, and the question that you just asked, is the question that I want people to ask. I want people to be interested in what this is, and, also, it’s very tight on his head, and it should give it a sense of how close-in this movie is. The cameras are close to these people. You’re in it with these people, and so you’re in it with that person, but you don’t yet know who that person is. This is a Vince Vaughn you’ve never seen before.”
Brawl In Cell Block 99, directed by S. Craig Zahler, stars Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, and Marc Blucas. It will be released in theater October 6th and on demand and digital HS on October 13th.