An ultra violent teenaged inmate (Jack O'Connell) is transferred to the same prison unit as his father (Ben Mendelsohn) where he becomes a target of the authorities and the other inmates, while a therapist (Rupert Friend) takes a special interest in his recovery. David Mackenzie's Starred Up overplays its hand, not satisfied with being a rehabilitation story, poignant family drama, and a damning statement on the prison system, but rather THE definitive film on these subjects. Further, the film is excessively graphic in places where it doesn't need to be and it also stirs the debate over whether a film protagonist, here in Mr. O'Connell, needs to be endearing for the piece to work. All that being said, there are several powerful scenes and Mendelsohn along with many of the character actors are excellent.
** 1/2 out of ****