The Escapist

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Screenwriters: Daniel Hardy, Rupert Wyatt

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


Frank Perry (Brian Cox) is a lifer: in prison for the rest of his natural-born days. And he’s been perfectly willing to accept that . . . until now. A letter informs him his daughter is critically ill following an overdose. He must see her before it is too late and concocts a plan, but he needs help. He assembles a motley crew of unlikely companions to help with his intricate scheme. A fatal encounter puts the escape in jeopardy, and Frank must lead the group on a truly hair-raising escape.

What is so great about The Escapist is that it functions as both a classic prison-break film and an existential puzzle and is thoroughly enjoyable either way. The film is meticulously crafted, and filled with minute details of place and plot. Director Rupert Wyatt subtly melds story and visuals to fashion an exhilarating ride through the prison milieu and the internal workings of the characters. His insightful mix of frenetic and static camerawork prompts a visceral reaction that amplifies the speed and urgency of the escape.

Cox delivers a tour-de-force performance, reminiscent of classic screen heroes, that is impressive both physically and emotionally. When the puzzle is finally complete, we see Frank’s journey for what it really is: a passage not just from confinement to freedom but toward redemption for a tormented soul.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

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