Movie of the Week: The Escapist (2008)

Welcome to Generic’s ‘Movie of the Week,’ where we concentrate on one good movie per day with a short review.

Spoiler Warning: Although we’ll try our hardest to not give away the ending in these short reviews, we can’t guarantee we won’t give anything away at all!

This week’s movie is the little, indie-thriller straight from Ireland ‘The Escapist‘.

Co-written and directed by Rupert Wyatt (who some may remember the director of Rise of the Planet of the Apes), the film has two, intersecting story-lines going at the same time. On one end, we have the story of a convict with a life-sentence named Frank Perry (played with a shocking amount of sensitivity by Brian Cox) who plans on escaping from the prison he’s currently shackled in, just so that he can meet his drug-addled daughter on the other side.

Whereas, on the other side of the movie, we have the story about the actual escape plan that Perry, as well as the fellow inmates (played by Joseph Fiennes, Seu Jorge, Dominic Cooper, and Liam Cunningham).

Having a movie where one part of it is fast, quick, and tense, whereas the other one is all about developing characters and being a “drama”, could kill any movie if it doesn’t have the right sense of direction and placement, but Wyatt knows what he’s doing. Rather than telling us all that we need to know about these guys’ escape plan, we only see what we should, thinking that everything might just go according to plan.

However, with any plan, usually things do go awry and that’s what happens here. Through the building of drama and suspense, we feel for all of these characters, regardless of what it was that they did to have them end up in the slammer. Especially Cox, who, much to my surprise, was very good at playing this small, short, and sweet guy that has come to terms with the crime that he has committed, as well as not being able to see the outside world. But yet, he still dreams of one day, just one day, meeting his daughter on the other side and having everything be all peaches and creams.

Whether or not the reuniting of the two actually occurs, will be totally left up for you, the viewer, to see. What I can tell you is that what does happen will grip you, but also touch in a dramatic-way, something I wasn’t expecting from this movie.

Wyatt has surely made a name for himself re-viving a franchise that most people thought was dead in the water (thanks Tim Burton!!!), but I’ll never forget him for this movie and in showing me that you can get a bit more of something out of the tired-genre of prison movies. Especially ones where there are inmates that are trying to escape.

So, if you want to see further confirmation on why Wyatt was a perfect choice for the Apes franchise, definitely give the Escapist a look. It’s fun, tense, dramatic, a tad emotional, well-acted, and even has a nice supporting performance from Damian Lewis, pre-Homeland days.

What’s not to like about that!?!?!

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