Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Escapist: Grade B

The Escapist (2008)
Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Damien Lewis, Seu Jorge, Liam Cunningham; Co-writer and director Rupert Wyatt.

It’s definitely “a guy thing” and maybe just a married guy fantasy, but I love prison escape movies, and this low budget drama is one of the best ever. Brian Cox heads the team of lifers who breaks out of a prison somewhere in Britain. The sense of place and time are deliberately foggy perhaps because they are lifers, and you can focus on the characters. On display are the prerequisite whispering plan in the cafeteria, bareknuckle fistfights, and plenty of digging, of course. There are long journeys through pipes, sewers (why is it always the sewers?) and subway tunnels. But these features simply define the genre. What the film is really about is the inner character of Frank Perry (Cox), and how that is expressed in his fine acting. Cox has been around forever, playing secondary roles since the 1960’s but he only came to my attention in 2004 when he stood out in The Bourne Supremacy as the only person who could act. This is his first starring role and it is well-deserved. Supporting performances are all very strong, a tribute to the director. Photography is excellent and the music, featuring cellos and other strings, is extremely good (although far too loud: three times the level of the dialog, according to my on-screen indicator). Actually, there is not much dialog in the whole movie. It is a visual story, which I like. Admittedly this film is not great art, but for its genre, it is sure to be a classic.

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