DVD The Escapist [DVD]  (DVD 6268544),
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The Escapist [DVD] 
Region 1 USA/CA (
There is a long tradition of films about prison escapes, such that any new venture into the subject is compelled to add some form of innovation to the well-known narrative elements. The audience expects to see a motley crew of cons discern a subtle seam in the prison's security, which they then exploit with an ingenious combination of resourcefulness and subterfuge, using handmade trinkets to chisel through the walls and into the underground, which represents the darkness just before the dawn of freedom. THE ESCAPIST wraps this familiar package with a beautiful new bow, using a unique structure and a metaphysical twist to freshen up the formulaic plot.
The opening scene, which veritably screams references to Guy Ritchie's SNATCH, shows the felons breaking through the first barrier, and director Rupert Wyatt then alternates the thrilling depiction of the escape with earlier scenes depicting the planning stage of the breakout. Thus, Wyatt dictates the amount of knowledge the audience requires, so that questions about certain aspects of the escape (how did they get through that steel wall? why did they bring that new guy along?) are then systematically addressed by subsequent scenes of the earlier action in the prison. Gradually, everything slips nicely into place, arousing a false sense of mental confidence in the viewer, which will again be shattered before the end of the film. Brian Cox is outstanding in this rare lead role, effortlessly evoking the fatigue and surrender embodied by Frank Perry, a man who has spent the better part of his life in confinement. Other notable performances include Damian Lewis as Rizza, the confidently effete leader of the prison population; Steven Mackintosh as Rizza's creepy weak link of a brother; and Joseph Fiennes as the thug thief who provides the muscle to enact Perry's master plan.
Dominic Cooper, Joseph Fiennes, Damian Lewis, Steven Mackintosh, Stephen Mackintosh, Seu Jorge, Brian Cox, Liam Cunningham
4 stars out of 5 -- "Rupert Wyatt's feature debut covers surprisingly fresh territory. What impresses immediately is the film's grim, oppressive atmosphere....Gripping..."
"THE ESCAPIST shapes a standard prison-break drama into a metaphysical study of freedom and reparation....Structuring the escape and its planning as parallel story lines, the director, Rupert Wyatt, keeps faces close and words to a minimum."
New York Times
Cox shows a wily, well-tested faith in the power of opaque stillness and taciturn authority to suggest emotional depth. It make for an unexpectedly welcome form of dramatic escape...
Los Angeles Times
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