#34 The Escapist

The Escapist (2008)

Dir: Rupert Wyatt

When I watched ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, it prompted me to ask the question, ‘If they’ve given such an important project (and huge amount of money) to someone who has only directed one film before, how excellent was that first film?’ I have now seen the answer.

‘The Escapist’ was Rupert Wyatt’s first feature film, and is simply a British prison break drama. It focusses on Frank Perry, a lifer, who when he hears that his daughter is in a bad way after repeatedly overdosing on drugs, decides that he needs to escape prison so he can put things right with her. However, he has much to sort to make that happen, and a variety of other inmates to contend with.

I enjoy heists and prison breaks, films that contain things that need genius levels of planning. I loved the TV show ‘Prison Break’ for that reason (or the first season at least), and this is amongst the very best, it’s incredibly deftly composed. The cast is an ensemble of top British actors, including Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper and Homeland’s Damian Lewis. It’s all told with minimum of fuss, often very little is said in favour of just showing it happening, not all questions are asked or answered, and so it moves along at a great pace and expects you to keep up with what’s going on.

Throughout the film there is frequent intercutting between the planning and execution of the escape. Usually this technique can be quite problematic, creating plot holes that need filling, or even spoiling tension as it lowers the anticipation when viewers know what’s coming. In this case though it’s near perfect. Everything is tied together very neatly, the tension levels are kept suitably high, and you really don’t see everything coming.

I wondered why Rupert Wyatt was entrusted with such a big film as ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, and now I see exactly why, his debut film was superb!

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