Top 365 Films – #331 – The Escapist (2008)

Top 365 Films - The EscapistDIRECTED BY: Rupert Wyatt

STARRING: Brian Cox, Damian Lewis, Joseph Fiennes, Seu Jorge, Liam Cunningham, Dominic Cooper and Steven Mackintosh


EARNED (Worldwide): $0.39m




Frank Perry is an institutionalised 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.


Frank Perry is a lifer without parole, long accepting the fact that being on the outside is impossible. One day Frank receives his first letter in fourteen years…his daughter is a drug addict and is near death following an overdose. Because of this, Frank is motivated to reach the outside and see his daughter and begins to plan an escape from prison with the help from his friend Brodie, Lenny Drake and Viv Batista. Though when Frank gets a new cellmate, James Lacy, it makes matters complicated for Frank as it puts him on the radar of Tony, a junkie who happens to be the brother of the king of the prison Rizza.


From the opening of the film, you’re made aware that you’re going to jumping between two narratives simultaneously, the flashbacks leading to the preparation of the escape and then the escape itself, leaving you guessing on certain questions that’ll burn with you during the film such as why is there blood on Frank’s hand? How does Viv Batista and James Lacy get involved with the original trio of Frank, Brodie and Lenny? While the flashbacks allow the cast to sink their teeth into the dialogue, it’s on the escapes itself that they’re more expressive with their faces and bodies as time is running out and desperation to escape is high. Before Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Rupert Wyatt really toned his craft of filmmaking in this film, allowing for mostly mid-shots of the actors, especially during the confrontations in the cells, to allow them to be expressive and increase the tension in those scenes. Have to commend the score and the sound mixing involved here as they play a huge part in the film as well. The cast themselves are great, particularly Liam Cunningham, Dominic Cooper, Joseph Fiennes and in the few scenes that he has, Damian Lewis, he’s still memorable. The final positive, of course, goes to Brian Cox, who makes us care for Frank and carries the film (as well as the group) on his soldiers as we root for him to escape. The supposed American remake has a lot to live up to in my eyes. Also spot WWE Sheamus in the mix.


FAVOURITE SCENE: The escapists make their way through the vent, which we see from a long shot of just how tight the space is surrounding them. Just love that shot.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘You know the one thing you’ve got going for you, Frank? You’re too old to die young.’ – Rizza

DID YOU KNOW?: The role of Frank Perry was written specifically for Brian Cox by director Rupert Wyatt, who had worked with Cox before and wanted to work with him again. When Cox refused a supporting role in a movie Wyatt offered him and challenged him to write him a good leading role, Wyatt did exactly that.


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