The Escapist (R) - 2008 - Runtime: 102 minutes
Starring: Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper
Director: Rupert Wyatt
This movie was awesome! I find myself thinking about it way after I've finished it. It's a gripping, utterly brutal picture that easily is one of the best prison break movies. Ever. Yeah, this movie did what Prison Break, the TV series that after an inspired first season ultimately petered out with redundant storylines, only dreamed of doing. It's quite visceral and riveting - it takes no shame in depicting prison as pure hell.
Brian Cox plays Frank Perry, a lifer who recently found out his daughter is on the verge of death. This shattering moment sets in motion what will ultimately be the breakout plan embarked upon by 5 men who will do anything for freedom. The movie plays out in scenes that jump from the beginning of their planned breakout to the men making plans and the events that lead up to the day they decide to escape. There's no back story on the men, the story just unfolds without any background on why each man is incarcerated. This is a good thing, otherwise the movie would be bogged down with too much exposition. It would detract from the epic scheme that these five men have created. As much as I loved the events leading up to their breakout, I found myself waiting desperately for the next scene of the escape. Every time they cut back and forth the two scenes complement each other providing clues as to how they got through each obstacle. It's a great way to tell the story and keeps things paced nicely, without overwhelming the audience with action or too much exposition and dialogue.
As for the performances, Brian Cox does a good job, but his supporting cast really shine. Especially Joseph Fiennes, who plays a somewhat insane and suicidal inmate with a thirst for the fisticuffs and Dominic Cooper, who plays the naive (and fresh off the bus) prisoner who becomes entangled in the escape plot by being the pretty boy and prison bitch to one of the prison's most powerful inmates. Although besides Frank and Brodie, two long-time companions, most of the men are put together because of circumstances. But you'd never know this, because when the task is at hand, they work with the determination of a band of soldiers. And although things get a little weird near the end (hint: Ambrose Bierce) it all fits nicely together and the conclusion is brilliant.
It's out now on DVD as a Blockbuster exclusive (you can only rent it at Blockbuster stores or online) so check it out!
Rating: Buy It!