The Escapist (15)
Time Out rating:
<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5Rate this
Time Out says
Tue Jun 17 2008Prison 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.
Author: Tom Huddleston