Cell 211 is a 2009 Spanish-French prison film directed by Daniel Monzon, starring Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann. This is a story of a prison guard, Juan Oliver (Alberto Ammann) who decided to go to work one day before he actually begins to make an impression. What awaits him later is a riot, which forced him to be locked in Cell 211 after suffering an injury to his head. He knows the only way to live is to be one of them, and so he acted as an inmate. He has to make peace with the rest and gain the trust of their ‘leader’ Malamadre (played by Luis Tosar) as they take hostage of high profile, terrorist-prisoners. Directed by Daniel Monzon, the film offers relentless action as the rioters demand to be recognized, a long losing battle make the men confront the cruel authorities imposing the prison rules. The screenplay was based on a novel by Francisco Perez Gandul, with a screen adaptation by Mr. Monzon and Jorge Guerricaechevarria. The action never decreases as it builds momentum to the unpredicted climax when all hell breaks loose.
When a film takes only ten minutes to establish its premise and get the ball rolling, it’s usually a sign of absolute confidence in the long game. The acting is solid throughout, and the characters are finely shaded even when larger than life. Juan has a cruel curve to take, and he conveys this with an unsophisticated presence of a regular guy. Malamadre lives up to his name. Cell 211 is pure entertainment, and exploits the emotions of the audience by the oldest method available – characters that are well-developed and relatable. There is a point to the story, and clearly Daniel Monzon has an axe to grind against the criminal justice system of Spain, but this is to the benefit of a fine story.