Joe Lynch is still in his adolescent formative years in terms of experience. Knights of Badassdom (2013) and Everly (2015) were the only feature length credits he has to his name thus far. And working from a position of inexperience, he has found a way to entertain audiences without making a huge splash in the budgetary department. Conceptually speaking, Lynch’s visions have been of a restricted rampage consisting of action, fun and guns. Better yet, he keeps things around 90 minutes so there’s less time to focus on various flaws. Mayhem is his next attempt at a fast paced roller coaster ride of turbo-fueled butt-kicking bliss. Success or regress, that is the question?
Derek (Steven Yeun) is merely a worker bee in a hive of corporate chaos. He comes to work everyday and gives 110% but somehow, Derek always ends up on the losing end. In this fast-paced world of dog eat dog, it’s all about putting yourself ahead of everyone by any means necessary. He has faith in the system but reality soon kicks him square between the legs while wearing steel-toed boots! He’s made to be a scapegoat by his immediate supervisor, known as The Siren (Caroline Chikezie) and the treachery doesn’t stop there, it goes all the way to the top. The Nine, the company’s board of directors, view anyone and everyone as expendable. To make matters worse, if that’s even possible, a highly contagious virus is about bring this hostile work environment to next level insanity.
Mayhem starts out one way but soon turns into a bloodbath of brutality. Talk about violence in the workplace, that’s an understatement for sure. Fans may see a few similarities but Joe Lynch often directs the focus into another direction entirely. I could spend an entire paragraph mentioning all of movies that I feel this feature channeled. Game of Death (1978), Office Space (1999) and The Belko Experiment (2016) are all ones that come to mind right off the top of my head. And as you can see, these examples are completely different genres from one another. That is one of the pluses to the this movie. Even with the 86 minute runtime, it packs in quite a few changes of pace, direction and feel.
The characters are not unlike those from a video game, each have something that is memorable and sets them apart from everyone else. Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving fall into the “good guy” category, whereas Caroline Chikezie and Steven Brand definitely fall into the “bad guy” category. Then there are those in between that are simply there as a means to an end. Remember, this is a chaotic movie so you need to have some expendable people. Don’t look for complex fleshing out of any character, just know that anyone could bit the bullet at any given time.
Mayhem is fun like a shoot ’em video game that doesn’t need to explain itself. Don’t get caught up in the details too much because they don’t matter. There an aggressive virus that basically dissolves inhibition and throws morality out the window. Corporate American can be a real cutthroat industry and you’ll witness this behavior often and close up. This not for the squeamish (it’s not too over the top, but still…) and it’s also a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. Combining these practices is kind of like Contagion (2011) meets Crank (2006). It’s simply fun till it’s done. So, while it doesn’t have a wide opening in theaters, you should definitely find the time to check it out on your streaming service of choice.