A family man Wade Porter is living the American Dream with his girlfriend Laura and their son Michael: they have a nice house, he has just raised a loan to make his company grow and they are going to get married. However their dream becomes a nightmare when Wade unintentionally kills a burglar that had broken into their house in the middle of the night on his lawn. He is sent to trial and accepts a deal proposed by the prosecutor, being sentenced to three years in prison. During the transportation, there is an incident in the bus and Wade is framed and sent to the maximum security wing under the command of the corrupt Lieutenant Jackson. His cell-mate John Smith that was sentenced to life revenging the death of his family befriends Wade and gives helpful advices and hope to Wade to return to his family. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The frenetic fights filmed during production were partly choreographed, by stunt coordinator and mixed martial arts fighter Mike Smith. Certain beats throughout the fights were decided and rehearsed, but the move from one beat to another were left for the actors/stunt men to scramble through, making the fights not only seem very hectic and real, but also making them an accurate representation of the mixed martial arts and street fighting common in this subpopulation. See more »
In the beginning of the movie John refers back to how his daughter would have been 27 at that time but by the tattoo calender on his arm she should have only been 22 or 23. See more »
[first words to his new cell mate]
You jerk off? Face the wall. You break wind? Put your ass to the door. You shit or piss? In the can. You do all that, we'll get along famously.
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Most prison movies are essentially the same story told with different characters. Usually the protagonist is convicted of a crime (which he did or did not do), is sent to prison and finds that they have to either adapt to their brutal new surroundings or die. Allies are won, enemies are made, death lurks around the corner. "Felon" is no different but three things raise it above most others.
First is the setting. Filmed at the New Mexico State Penitentiary, the movie carries an air of authenticity and gritty realism that movie sets simply can't provide.
Next is the casting. Stephen Dorff has always been a very underrated actor and here he provides a wonderful portrayal of a man let down by the legal system and cast adrift in a living nightmare. His descent from upstanding family man to an enraged prison inmate with fire in his eyes and blood on his knuckles is perhaps predictable but Dorff sells the portrayal to the audience completely. However, Harold Perrineau and Val Kilmer are the real stars here. The first (whom avid fans of the television shows "Lost" and "Oz" will already be familiar with) offers a great performance as Lieutenant Jackson, a happy family orientated man outside of prison but a monster within its walls. Kilmer, meanwhile, is John Smith, the philosophical but potentially dangerous convict who comes to befriend Dorff's Wade during their time together.
The third and final ingredient that ensures "Felon" impresses, is the passionate directing by Ric Roman Waugh who also wrote the screenplay (based, apparently, on events at the notorious Californian State Prison). With the help of some incredible editing, the movie powers along at a frantic rate and rarely gives the audience time to breathe. If the ending is somewhat contrived, you can forgive it because the journey to reach the conclusion was so intense.
Highly recommended, especially for fans of "The Shawshank Redemption", "The Big House", "An Innocent Man" and "Lock Up".
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