When I bought THE ESCAPIST at Blockbuster for .99¢ I had no idea that it was the same director as THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (and the upcoming STAR TREK 3). I watched it today and was truly taken and impressed by the film and it became obvious to me why Rupert Wyatt is now making high budget studio films. 


THE ESCAPIST is a taut little prison thriller that may use a number of unavoidable tropes but does it with such style and aplomb that those clichés are easily forgiven. 


Frank Perry (Brian Cox) has been in prison for quite some time when he discovers that his only daughter is pissing her life away with drugs. Having barely survived another overdose if she doesn’t get her life straight she’s not long for the world. 


Determined to save her, Perry assembles a crack squad of break-out artist in the prison that includes Lenny (Joseph Fiennes), Brodie (Liam Cunningham) and Viv Batista (Seu Jorge). They are also joined by Perry’s new young cellmate Lacey (Dominic Cooper) who presumably will not survive in prison for too much longer. 


With just three days to execute their plan, they use every trick in the book to make this escape their last. It plays like a great heist film except the thing they’re stealing is their freedom. 


What is so incredible about the film is that it’s told in a non-linear fashion and requires the audience to pay attention and assemble the pieces themselves. I personally had no problem keeping it all sorted, though I’ve read a few reviews that complain about that aspect of the film. To them I say, “Stop being a lazy viewer and actually watch the movie!” 


The cast is fantastic and is rounded out by HOMELAND’s Damien Lewis who is the self-anointed lord of the prison. As the brutal Rizza, he could provide the only stumbling block that could unravel the entire plan. 


I found the entire film riveting from start to finish and as prison break films go, it’s one of the better ones I have seen. I highly recommend this diamond in the rough that has been locked away in the prison of criminally underappreciated films.

THE ESCAPIST (2008)

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JANUARY 12, 2014