Cell 211 (Celda 211) (2009)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Cell 211 (Celda 211) Videos

Cell 211 (Celda 211) Photos

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 doctor to arrive, a riot breaks out, and Juan is left behind. When he wakes up, all is in chaos, and Malamadre (Luis Tosar) and a band of fellow inmates have taken control of the prison. Malamadre thinks Juan is another prisoner, and for the sake of his own survival he plays along, throwing in his lot with fellow rebels Tachuela (Vicente Romero) and Releches (Luis Zahera). When Malamadre learns that a handful of Basque terrorists are confined to the same prison, he sees an opportunity to use them as a bargaining chip with the government, and Juan is caught between saving his own skin and helping Malamadre make a deal that could have grave nationwide implications. Celda 211 (aka Cell 211) received its North American premiere at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Art House & International , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures


Luis Tosar
as Malamadre
Carlos Bardem
as Apache
Alberto Ammann
as Juan Oliver
Marta Etura
as Elena
Luis Zahera
as Releches
Manuel Morón
as Almansa
Vicente Romero
as Tachuela
Fernando Soto
as Armando Nieto
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Cell 211 (Celda 211)

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (7)

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.

Full Review… | October 27, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top 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.

Full Review… | October 27, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 12, 2011
Time Out
Top 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?

Full Review… | January 30, 2011
Miami Herald
Top 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.

Full Review… | October 28, 2010
Washington Post
Top 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).

Full Review… | October 21, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

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.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

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!

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

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.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

Cell 211 (Celda 211) Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss Cell 211 (Celda 211) on our Movie forum!

News & Features