After Samuel L. Jackson was cast, the title of the film was changed from "Fury" to "Arena", to avoid confusion with Jackson's role as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. See more »
Brutus Jackson could not have been broken out of the prison transport outside Robben Island prison. The prison is on a small island and transports prior to the decommissioning of the prison were done by boat. See more »
Men are forced to fight to the death for an eager internet audience, but the game's most recent recruit may pose a threat to the system with his unyielding spirit.
It's a cliché to even say this sounds familiar, so I won't do that ;)
This might've had a chance at being good if it had been made prior to Gladiator, Running Man, Gamer, Rollerball, etc. etc. etc. (as then, at least, the idea behind the whole thing would've been something new). This doesn't seem to make much of an attempt at serving up anything significantly fresh though, except perhaps the effects technology to up the bar slightly on gore.
The topic is the public's tendency to get hooked on sadistic voyeurism, and the people who use that tendency to make money/power. Samuel L. Jackson plays the man taking advantage, and although Samuel is usually great, and I would SO like to say "even Samuel's awesomeness couldn't save this film," I actually can't even say that. I found his performance here to be somewhat sub-Samuel. His heart just didn't seem in it, and for that I can not blame him too much, as the material just isn't worthy of his efforts.
I'm not sure what exactly got Mr. Jackson stuck with this job, but I have a feeling it was a reluctant favor to first-time director Jonah Loop, who handled visual effects on a couple of Sam's other films.
The film progresses somewhat as one would expect, albeit with a little window dressing. I found myself wanting to fast-forward often, which I took as a bad sign. Cinematography, effects, sound, etc. were on Hollywood par though, and everyone else's acting was actually pretty good (perhaps the rookie director was too intimidated by Jackson to offer him much direction, in comparison). Hopefully, with some better ideas that everyone can actually care about, this director can pull off some good films in the future.
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