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Break-ing Point

PUBLISHED: 16:24 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 August 2010

JAIL BONDING: Dominic Cooper as Lacey, Joseph Fiennes as Lenny Drake, Brian Cox as Frank Perry, Liam Cunningham as Brodie and Seu Jorge as Viv Batista in The Ecapist.

JAIL BONDING: Dominic Cooper as Lacey, Joseph Fiennes as Lenny Drake, Brian Cox as Frank Perry, Liam Cunningham as Brodie and Seu Jorge as Viv Batista in The Ecapist.

BRIAN Cox stars as Frank, an aging phlegmatic lifer who stages a prison break after receiving a letter from his wife informing him that his daughter is near death after ODing.

THE ESCAPIST

Cert 15

BRIAN Cox stars as Frank, an aging phlegmatic lifer who stages a prison break after receiving a letter from his wife informing him that his daughter is near death after ODing.

Turning the conventional prison break movie blueprint on its head, first-time director Rupert Wyatt opens the film with footage of the break itself. What follows is a rush of fractured narrative pieces which swing back and forth between scenes of the break and a series of brutal vignettes detailing the lives of the prisoners inside.

To help him break out, Frank enlists the help of a disparate gang of cons. First to be recruited are burglar Lenny (Joseph Fiennes) and Brodie (Liam Cunningham) who knows the layout of the system of tunnels beneath the prison. Later joining the crew are Viv Batista (Seu Jorge) whose home made drug-making talents are put to use to bribe sadistic junkie Tony (Steven Macintosh) into not telling his brother - prison kingpin Rizza (Damian Lewis) - what they are up to. The final member of the group is new arrival James (Dominic Cooper), whose boyish good looks have started attracting unwanted attention.

Gradually the pieces of the puzzle coalesce into a somewhat disappointing post-modern climax which reveals the story is more one of expiation than escape.

All the usual trappings are in place - the drug use, dodgy dealings with the screws, etc... and there's a tense undercurrent of homosexuality which boils over into a rape and a bloody retaliation.

The script is sparse and offers very little biographical information on the characters leaving much of the work to the actors, with Cox's strong central performance being the stand out.

With its bleak, unrelenting portrayal of life inside, The Escapist is far from easy viewing, but for those with strong stomachs and a dislike for happy endings, the film can provide a powerful and moving experience.

* The Escapist opens in cinemas on June 20.

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