The Escapist (2008) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Frank Perry is an institutionalized convict fourteen years into a life sentence without parole. When his estranged daughter falls ill, he is determined to make peace with her before it's too late. He develops an ingenious escape plan, and recruits a dysfunctional band of escapists - misfits with unique skills required for their daring plan and united by desire to escape their hell hole of an existence. Much of the action takes place within the tunnels, sewers and underground rivers of subterranean London.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Frank Perry (Cox, in a role written specifically for him) is a lifer and has long accepted that hell never see the outside again. A solid and phlegmatic character, he holds his own but neither attracts nor creates any trouble. Grief is far more likely to be started by the psychotic and drug-addled Tony (Macintosh), brother to the ruthless head con Rizza (Lewis, who reportedly based his character's mannerisms on a mixture of Tony Blair and Chris Eubank). However, when Frank receives a rare letter telling him that his cherished daughter is near death following an overdose, he starts to think about escaping, and fast. Hes got a plan and he needs help. Soon a mismatched crew of all the talents comes together, with Lenny Drake (Fiennes), Brodie (Cunningham), Viv Batista (Jorge) and Cox's new cellmate James Lacey (Cooper) each pitching in.

    As is customary in the prison break genre, much attention is paid both to the themes of incarceration, freedom and the four Rs - redemption, release, regret and responsibility. Where The Escapist differs from other prison break movies is in its structure. Wyatt splices the preparations with the escape itself, cutting back and forth between the two (often with visually effective jump cuts).

    This gives way for a final twist which is inspired by Ambrose Bierce's story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.

    Much of The Escapist was shot in Dublin's Kilmainham Gaol, where the open terraces and communal staircases give the feeling of a ghoulish horseshoe-shaped cathedral overpopulated by human animals. A scene near the end is shot in the bascule chamber beneath Tower Bridge in London; coincidentally, exactly the same location where Wyatt's brother-in-law Boris Starling set the climax of his 2006 novel Visibility.

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