Sep 11 2013
There are two genres of film that I think will always appeal to all men. One is the heist movie, which works on the idea that if you got together with a wacky enough group of people, all with different skills, you could pull the impossible off. I think the second genre that plays off the first, though most would not make the connection, is the “escape from jail” genre.If you compare a heist to a jail escape, they often involve the exact same ideas. A small group of trusty people, all with strengths in different areas, all working together unbeknownst to most, to pull off the impossible. And The Escapist is one of those movies. A movie about a man facing insurmountable odds to escape prison and get to his daughter in time to save her.
It may sound sweet and idealistic, but this is a dark ride, as most of what I recommend is. And it has Brian Cox, which most of what I recommend does, for some odd reason. Oh yeah, because he is awesome and everything that he does is awesome, and knowing he is in a prison escape movie pretty much lets you know it will be badass, which is exactly what it is. Again, I promise to be vague and will avoid telling you anything that will take away from the impact of this amazing tale. But trust me when I say, you NEED to see The Escapist.
Perhaps it is my love for the new Netflix show, Orange is the New Black, but I have been watching a LOT of prison movies lately, and I am always completely intrigued at the very idea of prison. Not infatuated, mind you. Just intrigued. What intrigues me is, we think of them as “prisons”, but that is merely their names. They are actually small towns that have their own rules and laws and even their own hierarchy. We all assume it is the guards running the place, but no. The guards are placeholders and blame holders if anything REALLY BAD goes down, but generally, there is a sort of corporate ladder in there, as well as silent understandings. No snitches. People tend to hang with their own kind. Don’t start shit unless you plan on finishing it, but also, don’t let yourself be seen as some weak “bitch”, because then you will be victimized, and that will only get worse. The trick is, once you learn the flow, you flow with it, and you should be just fine.
That, my friends, is jail. Knowing that, our tale begins.
Man, that guard deserves an Oscar for his evil eye. Impressive stuff.
When The Escapist opens up, we see the typical ebb and flow of prison, and we see Brian Cox’s Frank character doing just that. Going with the flow. We also see, right away, who the big cheese is. A redhead named Rizza (God I hope that is a Wu Tang reference), who is played by Damian Lewis who most of you may know as Nicholas Brody on Homeland. Rizza also has an incredibly creepy brother named Tony, who can get away with whatever he wants due to his brother’s reign of power in the prison. The odd part is, we never really understand that hold he has in the prison, but we clearly see Rizza has a hold.
When the movie begins we see a new inmate being moved into Frank’s cell, and he seems to be a quiet kid, but creepy Tony (Rizza’s rapist brother) gets his eye on him and takes a liking to him, which sets n motion a terrible turn of events I won’t ruin here, but will tell you it’s NOT what you think.
Oh wait, trailer time! Watch at your own risk as some of these moments could be considered spoilery:
So as you see there, Frank gets the first letter he has gotten in jail in fourteen years, and he finds out his daughter near death from a drug overdose. He then decides he needs to get out and see her, no matter the cost. This is when he starts assembling his crew that will help him execute his escape. He knows the plan needs to be protected though, because evil Rizza and creepy Tony CAN NOT find out. And it is right about this point in the movie when something rather important goes down, switching up the dynamic of the film. Without saying anything that will ruin the surprises in this film, let’s just say suddenly it isn’t just escaping that is important. It is making it out alive.
I could take this moment to tell you that this role was written specifically for Brian Cox, and I can also tell you the man injects the feeling of “vulnerable but badass” like very few can on screen. I look at Brian Cox very much like my Dad. Kinda looks like him. Kinda acts like him. But I think that is what appeals to everyone about Brian Cox. He is like that emotionally frozen Dad who would still do anything he could to protect those he loved. And wee that here, clearly, especially echoed out in the ending of the film. Anyway, OBVIOUSLY he is amazing in this film. Even more impressive than he was in Red, which I talked up a month or so ago.
And no, the dude on the right is not Jean Reno. I fucking WISH it were, though.
I also want to take a second to talk about Joseph Fiennes as Lenny Drake in this film. Put it this way, it took me about a half hour of seeing him for me to even connect that it as Joseph Fiennes. He is jacked, and plays a character so removed from what you are used to seeing him as that it is definitely the most impressive thing I have ever seen him do. And last, Damian Lewis as Rizza. I don’t know what it is about this guy in this movie, but he is downright scary. Gingers are NEVER cast as badass, but from the first second you see him on screen, you will be wholly grateful he is stuck within the confines of your TV, because there is something utterly terrifying about him.
He acts like that calm dog that you know, at any point, would eat a baby’s face just to assert to the room that he was the one in control. He has very little screen time, but when he is on screen, you feel your hand curling into fists and feel y our breath get heavy. Yes, he is THAT imposing. And even with his very short amount of screen-time, make no mistakes, he is an essential element to this film. The evolution of his relationship with Frank is the heartbeat of the third half of the film. And try not to interpret what that means. It will make sense after you watch this amazing movie.
I feel like Joseph Fiennes should be rapping the opening to Lose Yourself here.
And if you think at ANY POINT I will tell you how or if there is an escape in this movie, there is no way I will. I want you to find that out on your own. For me to spoil that would take away everything important and essential about this film. I will tell you two things to remember about The Escapist before I escape myself, and that is, first, the ending is nothing short of profound. Yes, I said profound. It is the kind of ending that will make you want to watch the film one more time, right away. Quite possibly a perfect ending. The other thing is, we take things, like names of movies, at face value, when often they mean more than one thing, and we never even realize it. Remember that as the credits of The Escapist roll.
So hurry and go watch The Escapist on Netflix, right now.
And after that, here are six other horror movies you can watch on Netflix, right now as well! Thank me later.
Or just thank me by liking me on here.
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