- Director:Rupert Wyatt
- Cast:Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Damian Lewis
- Release Date:July 16, 2009
- Running time:101 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
A combination of a superb score and amazing performances make this a genre defying prison break film.
Devotees of HBO's Oz will be familiar with meaningful nods and grunts that pass for dialogue in contemporary prison drama. Similarly, The Escapist keeps its focus on internal relationships that drive withdrawn men focused on prevailing opportunity. What makes this different from other prison, and by extension, prison break films like The Great Escape or Escape From Alcatraz, is first time helmer Rupert Wyatt's forceful choice to chop up timelines. In a chaotic opener, we start near the end with four meaty crims punching their way through a concrete floor.
As the story flashes back and forth, Frank (Brian Cox), a lifer who learns that his junkie daughter needs help, decides to escape. He collects useful skills and connections from desperate men, hatches a plan, and the breakout begins. One line of story fleshes out startling backgrounds and brutal alliances in the gothic arena of a British prison. The second charts a frantic escape through the claustrophobic sewers and grimy, disused tube stations of London's Underground.
Wyatt's film is nothing if not genre defying, despite tapping into the rich vein of prison stereotypes (chilling violence and homo-erotica among them). What nudges this toward the top of its pack is a near perfect cast shaped by Brian Cox's sympathetic performance, Joe Walker's pounding edit, and Benjamin Wallfisch's blistering score. It strives to be, and almost always is, beyond persuasive, before being lobbed into goal with a lights-on reveal of an apparent semantic mix-up that rotates a story which spent most of its time on its ear, onto its head. The narrative possibly requires a second viewing to check validity or directorial trickiness, but such is the gruelling experience of The Escapist that we're happy to take Wyatt at his word.