The Escapist (15)

Film

Action and adventure

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jun 17 2008

Prison drama ‘The Escapist’ sets out its stall in the opening minutes, as the plaintive acoustic tones of Leonard Cohen’s ‘The Partisan’ are cruelly mugged by a pounding techno beat: this is a film in which the vaguest hint of subtlety or restraint is quickly smuggled out the back door in favour of another tooth-spitting punch-up or a swift, sharp shanking in the showers.

Borrowing the characters from ‘Porridge’ and dropping them into the plot of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, first-timer Rupert Wyatt has crafted a derivative but pacey tale of life on the inside. Old lag Frank Kelly (a superb, pensive Brian Cox) has a reason to escape, as do many of his fellow inmates, including fresh faced new blood Lacey (Dominic Cooper), dreadlocked meth-chemist Batista (Seu Jorge) and street-fighting master thief Lenny (an unrecognisably muscular Joseph Fiennes). In most cases that reason is psychotic, Grouty-esque chokey chief Rizza, played with quiet authority by Damian Lewis.

Up to and including a well-timed final twist, there’s little here we’ve not seen before, from attempted rape at knifepoint to a messy, redemptive  splash through the sewers. But it’s nicely constructed and sharply directed by Wyatt, who makes the most of a rock-bottom budget, instilling his stock locations with a dense and pervasive sense of cloying claustrophobia. Both the headline cast and the writing-directing team could and will do better, but as an attention-grabbing calling card this is perfectly serviceable fare.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Jun 20, 2008

Duration:

105 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

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Madison

Really enjoyed this mainly down to the great acting. The flashback editing worked for me and didnt feel overdone and was distracting. Damian Lewis and Steve Macintosh were particularly chilling in their performances. Dominic Cooper is clearly going to be a huge star and is very watchable. Tense, involving and I didnt see the twist coming. Good film

June Clinton

Quite apart from the plot : clever, satisfyingly worked out ; the characters : every one a five star actor ; the great achievement of this film is the fantastic setting of the prison, the vast hall and labyrinthine staircases, the galleries with massed ranks of uniform, soulless men, and how introduced into this collective are the small spaces where the men who have taken the decision to get out can gather for their cryptic exchanges as prelude to the terror of the actual escape scenes. The cutting is particularly goods as it keeps this juxtaposition of the plot and the consequences going throughout, up to the startling end. Most noteworthy are the sympathetic Brian Cox as Frank, desperate to get out, and his nemesis Damian Lewis as Rizza, cruelly menacing as king of the convicts who has no wish to get out of his little kingdom of barred cells and criminals. Their final confrontation is majestic.

June Clinton

Quite apart from the plot : clever, satisfyingly worked out ; the characters : every one a five star actor ; the great achievement of this film is the fantastic setting of the prison, the vast hall and labyrinthine staircases, the galleries with massed ranks of uniform, soulless men, and how introduced into this collective are the small spaces where the men who have taken the decision to get out can gather for their cryptic exchanges as prelude to the terror of the actual escape scenes. The cutting is particularly goods as it keeps this juxtaposition of the plot and the consequences going throughout, up to the startling end. Most noteworthy are the sympathetic Brian Cox as Frank, desperate to get out, and his nemesis Damian Lewis as Rizza, cruelly menacing as king of the convicts who has no wish to get out of his little kingdom of barred cells and criminals. Their final confrontation is majestic.