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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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Frank Perry (Brian Cox) is a long term prisoner in a London jail where the guards look the other way and one would be wise to avoid the attentions of Rizzo (Damian Lewis), the boss inmate and his unhinged junkie brother Tony (Steven Mackintosh in scenery chewing form). The arrival of a new cell mate, Lacey (played by newcomer Dominic Cooper) coincides with Perry receiving the first letter from his family in fourteen years. His daughter is a heroin addict and close to death. Perry decides he must get out, to see her and make things right while there is still time. He goes to his closest friend Brodie (Liam Cunningham) and they enlist on-the-edge pugilist and thief Lenny Drake (Joseph Fiennes) to put together their plan.
But the film begins with the escape, cleverly setting up many questions in the head of the viewer, which are then answered in flashback. We want to know why Frank starts the escape attempt what appears to be a stab wound, how drug dealer Viv Batista (Seu Jorge) gets involved and why Lacey is part of the team when he has arrived in the prison so recently. The answers come, but slowly so that it's only at the very end that the little hints and clues scattered through the story of the escape attempt itself make sense.
This structure and the final plot twist would alone make this film worth repeat viewing, but not just for that. Writers Daniel Hardy and Rupert Wyatt (Wyatt also directed) let images rather than words do the talking, and with a cast of this calibre it pays off brilliantly. The actors are allowed to use their faces and bodies to tell us the story: Brian Cox letting his face fall into a pile of regret when he reads the letter, Damian Lewis's posture as he walks past the cells to find out what happened to his brother, the tiny shifts of expression on Dominic Cooper's face as he relives his forced dalliance in the showers with Tony, from self pity to self hatred and back again. It's top notch stuff.
Comparisons with "Shawshank Redemption" are inevitable, but while "Redemption" was really a story about hope, "The Escapist" is actually a film about redemption, about the single unselfish act that can redeem wasted years, perhaps a wasted life. And, as Perry points out, that we're only as free as we allow ourselves to be.
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