In The Escapist Brian Cox plays Frank Perry, an old geezer stuck in prison for life. Like most people his age who have been there as long as he has, he’s gotten used to his life and does the best he can considering. But he still has a tiny bit of hope of seeing his family again, as he left a wife and daughter outside.

One day he gets a letter (the first he’s ever received) which states that in his absence his daughter has become a junkie, and that she’s overdosed twice. Her mother doesn’t know what to do and is afraid that the next time will be her last.

And with that, Frank knows he has to break out of the prison. With help from a friend who knows the tunnels and sewers below it and a few other guys who want out, they push through with a rapid plan and make their escape attempt.

A prison break movie, you say? One with a cast of varied characters, each with unique talents they put to use? One where there’s plenty of hiccups along the way and things don’t go as planned? One where someone’s trying to get out to see someone he loves? Sure haven’t seen one of those before!

But you haven’t. Whereas in most films of this type there’s an incredible amount of buildup and anticipation till the big day finally comes, here it’s completely different. Right from the start you’re constantly alternating between the jailbreak in progress and the planning and days that led up to it. That the film manages to keep the tension high throughout is the amazing thing. Thanks to some fantastic editing you’re constantly waiting on the edge of your seat to see what’s going to happen, how these guys are going to get past this next roadblock that suddenly popped up- what the next stage in their journey is and how they got there in the first place. Like any good film like this they keep you in the dark for most of what’s going on, only revealing their plans and intentions when you need to know.

It makes for an incredibly fast-paced film, a remarkably exciting and fun time.

Brian Cox is the glue here. He’s the heart and soul of the film and the journey you go on is his. It’s no surprise that the role was written just for him. He’s aided by some great character actors who really fill out their meager roles. There’s not a whole lot of backstory here (you never even find out what these guys are in jail for), but you still feel like you know these guys and can see where they all come from. There are a few nagging issues I have with the ending, although it works out to be fairly effective.

Having written all of this, I realize I could have saved us both a lot of time just by saying this- it’s friggin’ Brian Cox in an awesome prison break movie.

‘Nuff said? Go see it.

8.5 out of 10

The Escapist opens today in limited release.