A bit of nepotism hurts a movie's realism and pathos
ESKAPO - the daring exploits of media mogul's scion Geny Lopez, Jr and political scion Serge Osmeña III during the Martial Law Years (September 17/21 1972 until it was lifted in January 17, 1981). Alas, even with the estimable writer Pete Lacaba penning the screenplay (with co-writer Roy Iglesias), the film's potential is trapped by its origins: ABS CBN's Star Cinema (owned and run by the Lopezes) produced the film. Hence, despite ESKAPO's depiction of the horrors of Martial Law, the opportunity for pathos and empathy is squandered, especially when the dialogue belabors the obvious and the characterizations are really one-note, despite their being based on real-life personalities. However, Chito Roño, as he is wont to do, fills everything with tension, the pace never lags, and the famous 1977 escape scene is particularly nail-biting and gripping. Richard Gómez (as Osmeña) and Christopher de Leon (as Lopez) give empathic and brisk portrayals, despite being limited by a boxed-in script as it were, while Dina Bonnevie (as Chita Lopez), Mark Anthony Fernandez (young Gabby Lopez) and Eric Fructuoso (Raffy Lopez) shine in supporting roles. Armando Goyena is perfect as Don Eugenio Lopez, billionaire emperor of a powerful conglomerate suddenly oppressed by the Marcos dictatorship. In key roles, Ricky Davao, Bert Vivar and Miguel Faustmann enhance their limited screen time. As tract, ESKAPO works on some levels, but the history lesson would seem one-sided. As entertainment, ESKAPO definitely works, just skim over the lulls and dead spots and be gripped by the climactic titular scene.
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