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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. Written by
During the scene in which Perry meets his wife, and he looks around the doorway, behind him is a sign stating the prison regulations. However, about three quarters of the way down the list, 'prison' is erroneously spelled 'prision'. See more »
If Tony knows, then Tony knows. He's the devil on your back now. But if you want to trade, I give a trade. Ket's a dangerous drug, but deadly when poisoned... you got me? If it looks, smells and tastes like Ket, Pssshoo!... who will know?
No one touches Tony. Rizza...
Rizza? Who is going to tell Rizza? Junkies die every day.
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The strong delivery makes the most of a story that appears simple and hackneyed but isn't
Frank Perry is twelve years into a life sentence when he learns that his estranged daughter has become a junkie on the outside. Unable to do anything for her from his cell and unwilling to wait till he gets out, Frank comes up with a base plan to escape from the prison and brings several other prisoners on board to assist him. The escape itself can be worked out to detail and timings but in the meantime it is the days leading up to the escape that prove to be the more testing in a world of betrayal, power, rape, murder and drug use.
Watching the trailer for this film some time ago I was left not particularly fussed about whether I got to see it or not it just looked like I expected and offered little. The generally good reviews made me check it out when it was released on DVD though and I'm glad that I did because this is a much better film than it looks on the trailer. It is not that the plot is something different from a prison movie , although it is a little, it is the manner of delivery that makes the film work as well as it does. The concept is strong but it is the editing and structure that are the driving forces here. We start the film in two places. On one hand we are with the group as they start their escape attempt, while on the other hand we are some time before this when Frank gets his motivation to escape.
What this structure does is increase the tension by having two dramatic threads happening at the same time, with the escape itself delivering the pace to pay off against the build-up that is happening at the same time in the other thread. Rather than building up to the escape then the film does both at the same time and it is an effective and engaging technique. The point where one thread catches the other isn't totally convincing in some regards and I'll not be the only person to express a slight doubt at the dramatic punch of the conclusion but, with being caught up in the story so effectively up till this point, it does work and the way that it slightly undoes the impact of some of the film that had gone before is not a killer of a problem so much as it is a minor niggle.
Wyatt's direction is roundly good and, as co-writer, he makes the most of the structure and material. It helps of course when your debut feature has an impressive collection of actors and performances and Wyatt's does. As he also showed in Red recently, Cox makes an engaging leading man when given the chance. Fiennes is not quite so good as he perhaps overdoes his swagger and toughness still looks the part and does well but again he is a slight niggle. I liked Cunningham's turn as well as Cooper although the latter had a bit of a wet and less engaging character to work with. Brazilian musician Jorge was a bit of a weird find but did OK. Mackintosh is engaging and convincing in how he acts knowing he is technically untouchable due to the actions of his brother. Lewis is not in the film for much of the running time but his "less is more" approach produces a real menace when he is given the camera.
The Escapist is a comparatively small British film full of faces you'll recognise but nobody who is a real "leading man" in film terms, directed by Wyatt making his feature debut after a few shorts to his name. However it is cleverly structured and delivered with a real sense of quality in the story, direction and performances. It is not perfect but it is much better than the trailer suggests and I was pleasantly surprised by how much it engaged me and how much I enjoyed it.
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