There's an effective thriller buried somewhere deep inside Behemoth. But its script, which has the double whammy of being overstuffed and poorly written, means it never gets unleashed.
The movie cheats a bit by our protagonist Josh (Josh Eisenberg) already linking his daughter's mysterious illness to the major chemical company whose negligence he recently exposed. After "doing his own research online" - an incredibly stupid proposition, especially in the midst of a global pandemic - he brings his friends Keelee (Jennifer Churchich) and Dominic (Richard Wagner) along to confront the evil CEO Luis Woeland (Paul Statman). When he evades their questions, they ambush him after a conference, trying to get their own sense of justice. In the chaos, Josh has a bullet wound and Luis becomes their prisoner.
Putting ordinary people in extraordinary situations is the basis of many a great story. But the film wants to show off, instead of confining the characters to a motel room and raising the dramatic stakes. Both director Peter Szewczyk and co-writer Derrick Ligas have VFX backgrounds on films like Avatar and Mary Poppins Returns. So it makes sense they'd want to show off their abilities (which are impressive given the film's tiny budget). But the CGI beasts, melting walls and portals to hell don't make sense for a story like this. This was a prime opportunity to show off practical effects, especially as characters can't trust their bodies or their minds.
Statman at least has some fun as the devilish CEO, pitting our three reluctant kidnappers against one another. But he's the only one in a movie that takes itself far too seriously and self-righteously. (The movie even begins by having Josh listen to a podcast decrying fluoride and people who use the term "conspiracy theories.") The big bad is clearly supposed to be DuPont, but we already have a much better movie about their very real evil. It starred Mark Ruffalo and came out less than two years ago, but too few people saw Dark Waters.
Behemoth wants to serve as both impressive demo reel and powerful statement. It succeeds as the former, but fails spectacularly at the latter.
*This film is available theatrically and on VOD platforms.