Everything about Not Safe for Work is pretty odd. Odd in a good way, to be more clear. Starting with the name and runtime of just 74 minutes. Directed by Joe Johnston who was behind some of the most popular blockbusters in the last three decades like Jumanji, Hidalgo, and finally Captain America, this is an effective thriller with a limited budget and relatively unknown cast. It just proves that you don’t need all the fancy effects and stars to make a good movie. It reminds me of another flick with a similar, work-related theme: Severance. However, that’s a much bloodier affair than this one. It’s perhaps something you might wanna check out after this movie if you’re looking for another work-related story.
Relatively fast-paced, Not Safe for Work features an interesting back story and a pretty intense atmosphere. An air of mystery and sheer terror surrounds our main character as he’s trying to figure out what’s going. And stay alive during the process. The main theme of an employee stuck in an office building fighting for his life is a familiar one. However, a closed environment, short runtime, and decent acting made up for that. Off the top of my head, I can list Die Hard, P2, The Belko Experiment, and Exam also set in corporate offices. Out of all of them, the first two seem like the best fit. Here, the backstory made all the difference along with believable characters.
John Ferguson, a whistleblower at a major pharmaceutical company, decides to take more drastic measures against them. He ends up killing several executives eventually taking his own life at the end of his rampage. His case, along with a very contentious one involving the mafia ends up at Thomas Miller’s desk. As a young paralegal trying to impress his boss, Thomas will make a fatal mistake that his boss will luckily catch before any real harm is done. However, another kind of harm is on its way to this office building.
Although they were working on a small budget, you can’t find scenes where that’s obvious. Max Minghella was excellent as a Thomas Miller, showing loads of talent and potential. I just love how Not Safe for Work casually built up its atmosphere and characters. It seamlessly transitioned from just another day at work to something completely else. Much like John McClane was lured to the coast to get together and have a few laughs. It doesn’t feature sexual content or graphic violence. Mostly because it remains firmly focused on the survival and mystery that started all this. Also, this sprawling conspiracy aspect is very well executed and I’m a sucker for those.
Finally, this is a short and very entertaining ride that might prompt you to check out more similar movies. You can start with a bit older but still engaging thriller The Parallax View. And if you’re looking for more action check out Run from 1991.
Director: Joe Johnston
Writer: Adam Mason, Simon Boyes
Cast: Max Minghella, Christian Clemenson, Tom Gallop, Molly Hagan, Eloise Mumford, JJ Feild, Alejandro Patiño
Fun Facts: Shot in 2011, Not Safe for Work was released some three years later.