Director: Rupert Wyatt

Cast: Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Damian Lewis


A career criminal seeks redemption for himself, his family, and his friends by busting out of a penitentiary in this intelligent thriller. Frank (Brian Cox) is a criminal who was forced to leave his wife and six-year-old daughter behind when he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Frank openly acknowledges he was guilty and has…  See more details below


A career criminal seeks redemption for himself, his family, and his friends by busting out of a penitentiary in this intelligent thriller. Frank (Brian Cox) is a criminal who was forced to leave his wife and six-year-old daughter behind when he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Frank openly acknowledges he was guilty and has made his peace with life behind bars, but when he learns that a drug overdose has left his daughter seriously ill, he feels a powerful need to reconnect with his family, and his only option is to escape. Knowing he can't do it alone, Frank assembles a team from various factions of the prison population, including Viv (Seu Jorge), who makes and deals drugs from his cell; Lenny (Joseph Fiennes), a wiry tough guy who doesn't speak if he can avoid it; and Lacey (Dominic Cooper), Frank's new cellmate who is a white-collar criminal not cut out for prison life. Frank soon realizes if his plan is to work, he'll have to bring aboard some of the more dangerous and unpredictable members of the prison's community, including vicious and corrupt brothers Rizza (Damian Lewis) and Tony (Steven Mackintosh). The Escapist was the first feature film from writer and director Rupert Wyatt.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Most prison films create sympathy for the inmates by emphasizing their innocence, or their strides toward genuine repentance. Rupert Wyatt's The Escapist departs from that trend refreshingly. There are no Andy Dufresnes here, no prisoners correcting an injustice by perpetrating an escape. In fact, there's not a single symbol of hypocrisy or cruelty among the prison figureheads for them to fight against. Rather, Wyatt lets the prisoners establish relative levels of morality based only on the ways they engage with the day-to-day machinations of the prison infrastructure. The rest he leaves to a lean and fast-moving plot focused more on how an escape is planned, rather than whether it is deserved. There are few actors better suited to navigating the subtle gradations of audience sympathy, without relying on ham-fisted dialogue to drive the points home, than the talented Brian Cox. Cox plays a lifer named Frank Perry, who's gotten so glumly accustomed to prison's rhythms and politics that he doesn't bother anybody, and nobody bothers him. When Frank learns that the daughter he hasn't seen during 14 years of imprisonment (on charges that are never discussed) has had her second near-fatal overdose, he decides to break out and make an attempt to turn her life around. Frank enlists the help of Brodie (Liam Cunningham), Viv (Seu Jorge), and Lenny (Joseph Fiennes) in planning an intricate escape that'll launch in the prison chapel, continue through the laundry, rely on all kinds of air ducts and small openings, and finish in a train station several miles away. Getting wind of the plan is Tony (Steven Mackintosh), a sadistic junkie whose brother, Rizza (Damian Lewis), is the prison's most politically powerful and dangerous inmate. As it turns out, satisfying Tony's blackmail requests, which include having his way with Frank's new cellmate (Dominic Cooper), will prove a bigger obstacle for the conspirators than keeping their plans secret from the guards. A product of the Irish film industry and shot in Dublin, The Escapist is composed of fairly standard material, but Wyatt gives it new electricity through the structure he uses to tell the story. Wyatt's script (co-written with Daniel Hardy) alternates between two time periods: the week-long lead-up to the escape and the hardscrabble escape as it occurs, which weave in and out of each other onscreen. Because key pieces of information are kept hidden from the viewer, the narrative remains taut and unpredictable. Wyatt has done an excellent job creating this prison world, which is as much filled with menace as matter-of-factness, and seems only slightly (yet intentionally) fantastical in its sense of how the prisoners govern without external authority. The film benefits from a performance by Damian Lewis that capitalizes on the actor's innate ability to be chilling, and some particularly surprising work by Joseph Fiennes, who is as buff and imposing here as he was fey and meek earlier in his career. Kudos also go to Theo Green's sound design, which amps up the intensity level through urgent percussive accompaniment to Joe Walker's crisp editing. But for all its impressive stylistic and structural attributes, The Escapist may have more lingering impact for the surprises it has in store, the emotional peaks that flow naturally from the way the actors and director have fashioned these characters. Cox et al. prove that not knowing a huge amount about their characters does not preclude us from caring a huge amount.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Ifc Independent Film
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Trailer; Deleted Scenes; Making Of

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Brian Cox Frank Perry
Joseph Fiennes Lenny
Damian Lewis Rizza
Liam Cunningham Brodie
Seu Jorge Viv Batista
Dominic Cooper Lacey
Steven Mackintosh Tony

Technical Credits
Rupert Wyatt Director,Screenwriter
Tony Aherne Asst. Director
Philipp Blaubach Cinematographer
Kevin Byrne Special Effects Supervisor
Brian Cox Executive Producer
Jim Furlong Production Designer
Tamara Gillon Casting
Theo Green Sound/Sound Designer
Lol Hammond Musical Direction/Supervision
Daniel Hardy Screenwriter
Karl Merren Sound/Sound Designer
Alan Moloney Producer
Susan Mullen Co-producer
Maeve Paterson Costumes/Costume Designer
Adrian Sturges Producer
Joe Walker Editor
Benjamin Wallfisch Score Composer
Tristan Whalley Executive Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Escapist
1. Opening Credits [3:52]
2. Transferred [6:42]
3. New Cellmate [4:24]
4. Chemistry [4:15]
5. "Have a Wander" [6:23]
6. Connectivity [4:47]
7. The Plan [5:16]
8. The Fight [5:19]
9. Shower [5:20]
10. Options [4:43]
11. New Wall [5:41]
12. A Trade [6:33]
13. Goodbye, Brody [5:00]
14. Smoke [6:28]
15. Laundry [4:14]
16. "Make Your Confession" [4:53]
17. The Station [5:11]
18. Vision [7:49]
19. End Credits [4:45]


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