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Cell 211 (Celda 211) (2009)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 4,978

My Rating

Movie Info

A lawman must side with a gang of criminals if he's to save his own life in this action drama from Spanish director Daniel Monzon. Juan Oliver (Alberto Ammann) has accepted a job as a prison guard, and the day before he begins work he leaves his pregnant wife Elena (Marta Etura) at home and goes to the penitentiary for an orientation session. During a tour of the facilities, Juan is struck on the head in a freak accident; he passes out and is carried to a nearby cell. As the jailers wait for a

Aug 29, 2011

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (36) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

From Spanish director Daniel Monzon, this is a white-hot prison drama with a Byzantine plot and enough gore to make Reservoir Dogs look like a petting zoo.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a cut above the usual penal picture, intelligent with sharply drawn, memorable characters, a storyline suffused with tension and unexpected turns, and a morass of moral quandaries that could lead the most innocent into irretrievable darkness.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Just be sure to up your internal disbelief setting from 'suspended' to 'nonexistent'.

July 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Celda 211 (Cell 211) requires you to look past a couple of contrivances in order to enjoy its main scenario: How quickly can the ruinous nature of prison life corrupt an innocent, moral man?

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nearly every minute throbs with heart-pounding suspense, from the opening scene of a prisoner slashing his wrists with a razor blade fashioned from a cigarette filter to its mournful, blood-soaked conclusion.

October 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What this movie lacks in plausibility (which is almost everything), it makes up for with authentic adrenaline -- and Spanish Goya Awards (it won eight this year).

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

By the last half-hour, the story's seething skepticism towards the surveillance-state and its portrait of a naïve guard turned murderous prisoner make for a mesmerizing movie.

February 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Cell 211 is both gritty and gripping, and if the second half is not quite as electrifying as the first, much is forgiven because the story is so clever.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Monzón demonstrates a remarkable capacity for blending high concepts with high-minded ideas in a direct, no-nonsense way.

July 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman

First-time director Monzón keeps the screws tightened in every sense, as well as avoiding conventional rhetoric and sentimentality.

July 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

There's a riot going on in a Spanish maximum security prison, whose Darwinian savagery is right up there with A Prophet.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Independent

Cell 211 is a brutal piece of filmmaking ... but the shock and gore is warranted ...

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Director Daniel Monzon's picture - very well acted by the leads - manages to combine extremely clever, unpredictable plotting with plausible but unexpected character development, elevating standard genre fare to something much more substantial.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

It's a neat, topical set-up and, initially at least, Cell 211 possesses the sweaty, coiled intensity of Un Prophète. Alas, the second half is hokum. Que paso?

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

The film-makers wisely resist the temptation to make Juan a classically upright Hollywood hero. In taking a more pessimistic direction, the film comes across as infinitely more realistic.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

There is something melodramatic and soapy about Cell 211 occasionally, but it really is exciting

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian

Monzón's film remains a bracing draft for a great thriller, not the finished article.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Expect a Hollywood remake of the Spanish jail-riot thriller Cell 211. Three reasons: it's an international hit; it's pacy and pulsing, and it's trash.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Financial Times | Comments (5)
Financial Times

The twisty plot soon gets knotted, but in the process shows a deeply broken system born of violence and corruption.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

On the surface this is a relatively familiar prison thriller, yet when executed with panache of such disarming brutality and tension, it finds room to distinguish itself in an overcrowded genre.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

The film is shot in a documentary-style that's enhanced by using actual convicts as extras.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Any dips into melodrama are levelled out by its unpredictability, sympathies shifting multiple times in a kaleidoscope of greys that refuses to settle into blacks and whites.

July 13, 2011 Full Review Source: The Skinny
The Skinny

In a genre where the expectation of violence is so high, rare is the film that manages to shock and startle with such regularity.

July 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a powerful Spanish prison drama with terrific performances from Alberto Ammann and Luis Tosar.

July 13, 2011 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Audience Reviews for Cell 211 (Celda 211)

If you get through the gory opening scene, then you will probably love the rest of this action-packed prison flick that draws a very fine line between the good guys and the bad guys with its clever conceit: an eager new guard comes in a day before he starts his job and, through a terrible coincidence, gets caught up in a riot for the ages. There's one scene that seems unlikely - slight spoiler, a much-hated guard is thrown to the wolves - but the rest of the movie is white-knuckle drama (with a surprising and interesting political dimension behind it) that takes a character and tests him in a way a few films do. Brave, exciting work that swept the Goyas (Spain's Oscars) in 2009. Definitely see this one.
January 5, 2014

Super Reviewer

Very well done. Really good cast. I was extremely caught up in it from beginning to end....and it sure didn't end the way that I expected it to. Good job!
September 20, 2011

Super Reviewer

Like "Let the Right One In" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" this is another European film that has unashamedly been set up for an American remake already (Paul Haggis being the man involved). Seldom are remakes anywhere near as good and yet again, this will prove a hard one to match.
Juan (Alberto Ammann) is about to start work as a prison guard and is taking a tour of a maximum security area when he is injured slightly in an accident and left behind as a riot breaks out. Juan convinces Malamadre (Luis Tosar), the convicts' leader, that he is a new inmate who has been beaten up by guards, and the two men become close as the crisis escalates.
The film opens with the look of a low budget television film and at first I began to think I shouldn't have listened to the plaudits I'd read of this. Not before long though, it really kicks into gear and cranks up the tension and excitement. Within minutes I was hooked. I'm an avid fan of prison drama's, with their high level of suspense and on edge atmosphere and sense of danger. This is no different and wastes no time in exposing you to the violence and brutality of the inmates. Helped no end by two excellent central performances, particulary Luis Tosar as the snarling dominant ring leader. Director Daniel Monzon keeps the story briskly moving with several moments of unbearable and skillfully handled suspense and the fact that it avoids the usual genre conventions with many unexpected plot developments, helps in keeping you captivated and wondering what direction it will go in. European cinema seems to be reaching a bigger audience these days and this is another worthy of attention.
Fans of the 2009 French film "A Prophet", or any prison drama for that matter, should find plenty to enjoy here. An excellent well crafted film that delivers tension in spades.
September 12, 2011

Super Reviewer

Scarier than any recent horror film, as violent as a Tarantino one, tense and chilling. Tragic thriller on life's drastic, sudden changes for the worse. Luis Tosar is splendid as Malamadre, the prison's "king thug", supported by an outstanding cast. Goya winner 'Celda 211' stays with you long after the picture's over.
August 11, 2010
    1. Malamadre: Sometimes life fucks you up and you don't even realize.
    – Submitted by Ahmad M (18 months ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Celda 211 (DE)
  • Cellule 211 (FR)
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