Opening with a close-up of Brian Cox’s wonderfully craggy face and Leonard Cohen’s ‘The Partisan’ on the soundtrack, prison movie The Escapist promises much: the brutal realism of HBO’s OZ meets the cosy humour of Porridge, perhaps? It doesn’t quite deliver on that set-up, but deserves kudos for ambition and intensity, with director (and co-writer) Rupert Wyatt clearly a name to watch.
Frank Perry (Cox) is a lifer who plans to escape after learning his daughter is ill. The traditional anal rape in the shower scene aside, The Escapist has moments of originality and the flashbacks are a commendable attempt at creating tragic pathos. Cox is a powerful presence and those who stick with the deliberately fractured structure will find the heart-tugging climax rewarding.