I picked this to watch because of Damian Lewis who did such good work in this seasons Homeland. I also liked his work in the short-lived Life. But here, his name is on the star list, but his part is really a minor role. The Escapist is a Brian Cox film from fist to last. Cox plays Frank, a fourteen year lifer who hasn’t heard from his wife in all that time when one day he receives a letter telling him that their daughter is a druggie and is in danger of losing her life to her addiction. This is when Frank decides to hatch an escape plot to see his daughter for one last time – maybe even save her.
The ultimate escape route is subterranean London. These types of backdrops hold a fascination for movie goers, with their gothic tunnels, cascading stairways, and long abandoned subway tunnels. But this doesn’t come until the end. In the meantime, the prison itself is bleak and gothic enough in its own right. On one hand, this is fairly standard prison break genre film making. On the other hand it’s grimier and grittier than most. It’s got all the right tension build up and a lot more depth than might be expected of the genre.
A positive addition is the spooling back and forth between the escape and the planning. Brian Cox is great here, but he mostly is all the time. Lewis disappoints – not only because of the minor nature of his role, but because he just doesn’t seem believable here.