"Escaping Before It’s Too Late"
What You Need To Know:
THE ESCAPIST contains a couple of redemptive, Christian elements such as two major characters give up their lives to help their fellow prisoners and the ambiguous Christian faith of the protagonist, Frank. These redemptive elements would have been stronger had the filmmakers been clearer on the point they were trying to make by including this content. The engrossing character portrayals, overall storyline, and the unique use of sounds, facial expressions, and images to create suspense and tell the story, make the movie better than the average independent film. However, the movie’s foul language, brutal violence, drug-use, gambling, and references to homosexual activity in the prison require extreme caution.
(PaPa, H, Ab, C, HoHo, LLL, VVV, S, N, DD, MM) Strong mixed pagan worldview includes light humanist elements where most characters rely on their own means for escape, one anti-biblical reference where character says the story of David and Goliath is untrue and Christian protagonist seems to act in contradictory ways, and sometimes ambiguous but solid Christian elements includes two main characters sacrificing themselves to help other prisoners, protagonist sits in prison chapel and stares at crucifix, man sits in confession box and prays to God asking for forgiveness for the escape he is attempting because he knows he should remain in prison to pay for the wrong he has done, main protagonist says “the Lord provides” in reference to their escape plan, images of crucifix on door to chapel and at the front of the chapel, men find means of escape through the prison chapel, and men use large crucifix to aid in their escape, plus strong homosexual content includes references to homosexual cross-dressing and homosexual activity in prison, including implied rape; 28 obscenities and one profanity; violence includes very strong, somewhat brutal scenes and sometimes bloody violence such as man cuts off his own thumb at the command of other prisoner with blood and appendage shown after the fact and sounds are heard of the act, man pulls knife on other man to threaten him, two men engage in bloody boxing match with multiple punches and knee jabs thrown at each other and heads are slammed to the pavement, man gets tooth knocked out, dirt tunnel collapses on man and kills him, man beats other man over the head with a chair (bloody mess) and attempts to suffocate him with a pillow, man falls down flight of stairs which kills him, two men get hit by train and are killed but camera cuts away from the scene so it is not actually shown, man stabbed in the side and the actual stabbing isn’t shown but there is blood after the fact; non-depicted sexual content includes man cross-dresses and dances around arriving prisoners, men try to touch the new prisoners and make catcalls, men hold up signs with numbers on them indicating the new prisoner that they like the best, man leers suggestively at other man, and implied prison rape; upper male nudity in many scenes, men in their underwear, and shower scenes with rear male nudity; no alcohol; smoking depicted by multiple characters throughout movie, characters use cigarettes for bribery, man makes drugs and deals them in the prison, prisoners make trades for drugs, man makes poisoned batch of drugs, drug use depicted by prisoner who dies because it was a poisoned batch, references are made to main protagonist’s daughter being a drug user and overdosing; and, gambling, discussion of murder, corrupt prison guards, blackmail, and man considers suicide and starts to follow through but protagonist stops him.
THE ESCAPIST is a gritty low-budget, independent movie about a man who recruits a group of fellow prisoners to help him set up an escape plan in hopes that he might see his only daughter one last time. The absorbing character portrayals, overall storyline, and the unique use of sounds to create suspense, as opposed to using a complex musical score to underwrite the visual sequences, makes the movie better than the average independent film. However, extreme caution is required for the movie’s foul language, brutal violence, drug-use, gambling, sexual perversion, and implied prison rape.
THE ESCAPIST stars veteran actor Brian Cox as Frank Perry, a worn-down, older man in prison for life who receives his first letter after 14 years, informing him that his only daughter is close to death following a drug overdose. Driven by fatherly love and concern, he urgently sets up an escape plan so he might see her again before she dies. In order to put his plan into action, Frank recruits fellow prisoners: Lenny Drake (played by Joseph Fiennes), a fighter and intensely tenacious introvert; Brodie (played by Liam Cunningham), a gregarious Irish man who doesn’t care so much about escaping as he does about helping Frank get out; and, Viv Baptista (played by Seu Jorge), a low-profile, prison drug dealer.
The plot unfolds in flashbacks. This leaves the audience confused as to what is really going on most of the time, but the end resolves the details. Although this helps the filmmakers throw in some unforeseen twists along the way, including the surprise ending, it hurts the overall character development and cohesiveness in the storyline. For example, the filmmakers purposely chose not to give any background information on the main characters such as what they were like before prison, what crime they committed that put them in prison, etc., to make them exist in the moment. This ultimately makes it difficult for the audience to understand or empathize with the characters. However, it does fit with the artistic experience they were trying to achieve by telling the story mainly through images, sounds and facial expressions rather than through dialogue. Furthermore, the excellent character portrayals by the actors help make up for the lack of information and dialogue.
THE ESCAPIST contains a couple of redemptive elements such as the two main characters who give up their lives to help their fellow prisoners and the ambiguous Christian references by the main protagonist, Frank Perry. These redemptive elements would have been stronger had the filmmakers been clearer on the point they were trying to make by including this content. There are many instances where it is implied that Frank has faith in God, but his contradictory actions at times and the movie’s failure to give any insight or background concerning Frank’s actual beliefs leaves the audience confused. Overall, THE ESCAPIST is a fairly engrossing movie, but one that requires extreme caution due to its foul language, brutal violence, drug-use, gambling, references to homosexual perversion, and implied prison rape.
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