Reviewed bystandeman1984Vote: 9/10/10
As one reviewer said, this is an existential puzzle box of a movie, thetrue meaning of the title being revealed at the very end. It's not justabout escaping from a prison, nor is it a pretentious metaphor. Itsjust very very well made.
I appreciate some similarities with Shawshank Redemption for obviousreasons, but really this film stands up on its own rights. The reasonsfor escaping are wholly different - SR was to right a wrong while hereit is familial breakdown and taking responsibility for ones ownactions. Brian Cox's character, and the rest, are believable andfleshed out enough to engage with but the real achievement here is inthe pacing and structuring of the plot.
The film cuts between the actual escape itself and the events andplanning leading up to the escape. Dominoes, diamonds, and of course,drugs all play a part in the set-up of the escape, which plays out withbreathless excitement. The grim presentation of the prison, DamienLewis' character in particular, appears shockingly believable. Prisonsare not ruled in the way they should be, and a character like his,having a grip over the institution rather than the other way round,seems sadly truthful. He is very scary...
The end, like Shawshank, is uplifting in a downbeat kinda way. Itreminded me of The Descent, which i hope is not a great spoiler forpeople. I almost cried but actually you're left feeling quite happy forthe central character. There is not the same redemption as SR, which isa good thing, so don't go in expecting happy endings, or heaven forbid,Prison Break The Movie. For that it is not, though its existenceprobably owes something to the success of that over-running TV show,and the ingenious escape route is one Michael Schofield would be proudof. But really, this is a great little indie movie which came and wentat the cinema very quickly, but will no doubt find an audience in theyears to come.
Reviewed bythomasthetankerVote: 9/10/10
I didn't vote on any films in 2008. There were plenty of decent filmsbut nothing made me want to post on IMDb, whatever I want to say hasalways been put more eloquently by someone else. But this film deservescredit, naturally I checked here before I watched but afterwards I feltcompelled to demonstrate some appreciation. No, you moron posters, itis NOT Prison Break, neither is it trying to be. After it finishesyou'll want to watch it again. It looks real and gritty definitely notstudio. I don't know enough about film to tell you if it was thescript, acting, filming or anything else, it took me to a differentplace - Isn't that what we want most in a film?
Reviewed byMikey ParkinsonVote: 9/10/10
It was only yesterday that I had the chance to watch a film that islittle known, yet somehow managed to make it to my nearest Vue cinemain-between some of the current, perhaps contrived blockbusters that areon our screens currently. So it was only with great surprise that thisfilm, which I had heard great things about after it debuted earlierthis year at Sundance had a screening, after some persuasive actions ona friend, I was able to settle down for what I hoped would turn out tobe a memorable prison film. At a first glance The Escapist would appearto be your usual affair of a prison drama, however Rupert Wyatt hasdone far more than that in this wonderful existential, puzzle box of afilm, it drives on with true mystique and leaves you as the viewerquestioning the true structure of the narrative as it thrives you alongto the thrilling, lynchian climax.
The opening of the film begins the puzzle with what appears at first tobe a strange narrative choice, you join a number of inmates that areseemingly in the midst of a prison break. The thumping electronic scoresets your heart racing with a mixture of confusion and interest. Justas you think your in the middle of the escape, the director makes whatseems to be a very questionable editing choice. He appearingly jumpcuts back in time, before the escape. The film itself constantly jumpsbetween the escape and the lead up to the escape. Throughout the firsthalf of the film I must admit I found this seemed to hurt the pace ofthe film, but that's only if you take this as a conventionalPrison-Escape film. This isn't Escape From Alcatraz. And this narrativestyle that is explored through the film becomes clear more and reallybegins to pick up the pace in the second half, and the climax of thefilm really does show this choice of structure really did complimentthe story. You genuinely are knocked out by the films climax, it's onthe same level as Memento, and you feel equally fulfilled by the end ofThe Escapist.
The cast is really five star, lead by the wonderfully diverse Brian Coxas the haunted, subdued life sentence serving inmate Frank Perry.Arguably his career defining performance. He brings multiple layers tothe character impressively without much dialogue, it's a powerful,albeit silent performance for the most part, but you genuinely feel forhis character, and without giving anything away you will understand whywhen you do see the film, as the main story point is what leads to theengineering of the escape. Cox is joined by a fantastic supporting castof some of the finest English actors around today. For the most partthere appearances are often short, but there screen time does more thanenough to create the tense, look behind your back atmosphere you wouldexpect in any prison film. Steven Mackintosh gives a chillingperformance as the stereotypical inmate that is always the prisons bigbad. He takes a distinct liking towards Perrys new cellie, with someunnerving results. His fictional older brother in the film, the"leader" of the cell block is played by the wonderful Damian Lewis whoI became a big fan of after Band Of Brothers. He has considerably lessscreen time here but for me, his chilling stares, and few words weresome of the most memorable for me after the credits rolled.
The cinematography of the film is quite simply incredible. With a bleakgrey tone to the film that keeps the existential atmosphere brooding inthe background. Much of the film takes place in vast maze's ofunderground tunnel works. The filmmakers managed to captured aclaustrophobic feel towards the ongoing story. Full of black shadowsand long, seemingly endless age old tunnels that are barely lit by theflickering orange flame from their cell-made torch's. Thecinematography really helps compliment the enclosure of the prison,both inside it, as well as the escape. Their really isn't anywhere togo, its dark, brooding, and downright terrifying. As you would expect aprison to be! The Escapist really is a revelation in regards of moderncinema. It just reels you into the story from the get go and takes youon a bleak ride through the dark underbelly of the prison, metaphoricalin its tone, Rupert Wyatt really has crafted something wonderful here.The film defiantly leaves you with that deep satisfaction that Britainhas been getting some blisteringly good films as of late, alongsidefilms like Dead Man Shoes, it gives you the sense that there is still alot of great to come.
Frank Perry is an institutionalized convict fourteen years into a life sentence without parole. When his estranged daughter falls ill, he is determined to make peace with her before it's too late. He develops an ingenious escape plan, and recruits a dysfunctional band of escapists - misfits with unique skills required for their daring plan and united by desire to escape their hell hole of an existence. Much of the action takes place within the tunnels, sewers and underground rivers of subterranean London.