The Escapist (2008 film)

The Escapist is a 2008 drama thriller starring Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Liam Cunningham, Seu Jorge, Dominic Cooper, Steven Mackintosh, Stephen Farrelly and Damian Lewis. It is directed and co-written by Rupert Wyatt, and premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival to considerable acclaim. An Irish-UK co-production, the film was produced by Alan Moloney of Parallel Films and Adrian Sturges of Picture Farm.

The Escapist
Five vertical rectangles with pictures of different men in them. The words "The Escapist" below in the centre.
Official poster
Directed byRupert Wyatt
Produced byAdrian Sturges
Alan Moloney
Written byRupert Wyatt
Daniel Hardy
Music byBenjamin Wallfisch
CinematographyPhilipp Blaubach
Edited byJoe Walker
Distributed byVertigo Films
IFC Films
Release date
  • 20 June 2008 (2008-06-20) (United Kingdom)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Republic of Ireland
Box office$388,174[1]


The film runs two narratives simultaneously, preparation of the escape and the escape itself.

Frank Perry (Brian Cox) is a lifer and has long accepted that he will never see the outside again. When Perry receives his first letter in fourteen years that his cherished daughter is a drug addict and near death following an overdose, he starts to think about escaping. He plans an escape with help from Lenny Drake (Joseph Fiennes), Brodie (Liam Cunningham) and Viv Batista (Seu Jorge). But when Perry's new cellmate James Lacey (Dominic Cooper) gets noticed by Tony (the brother of the powerful inmate Rizza), things get more complicated and lead to Tony's death. When Perry receives the bad news that his daughter has died his plans change.

Perry nears freedom, as he climbs towards a London Underground exit. The story snaps back to within the prison where Perry is offering himself to be killed by Rizza for failing to bring Lacey to him for punishment. The escape scenes were Perry's hallucinations as he was dying, and he sacrificed himself to cause distraction, allowing the other prisoners to escape.

Cast and charactersEdit

  • Brian Cox as Frank Perry. A solid and phlegmatic character, he holds his own, but neither attracts nor creates any trouble. He is a lifer and has long accepted that he will never see the outside again.
  • Damian Lewis as Rizza. A ruthless convict who rules over the other inmates.
  • Joseph Fiennes as Lenny Drake. A former thief and boxer.
  • Seu Jorge as Viv Batista. The prison chemist.
  • Liam Cunningham as Brodie. Perry's right-hand man and closest friend.
  • Stephen Farrelly as Two Ton. The prison's reigning bare-knuckle boxing champion.
  • Dominic Cooper as Lacey. A newly arrived prisoner and Frank's cellmate.
  • Steven Mackintosh as Tony. Brother of Rizza, drug addled and the source of much conflict.



The role of Frank Perry was written specifically for Brian Cox.[2]

In an interview with Trevor Groth, Wyatt said "The structure of the film's plot was inspired by a well known short story written in the 19th century by Ambrose Bierce called An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."


Much of The Escapist was shot in Dublin's Kilmainham Gaol. A scene near the end is shot in the bascule chamber beneath Tower Bridge in London; it is exactly the same location where Wyatt's brother-in-law Boris Starling set the climax of his 2006 novel Visibility. The Kingsway tramway subway also features in the film.


The film is noted for featuring not only Irish WWE wrestler Sheamus (billed under his real name, Stephen Farrelly) in a main role but also future UFC star Conor McGregor as an extra playing a prisoner.[3]


The film features Leonard Cohen's version of "The Partisan" and British band Coldplay who wrote an eponymous song for the film which features on the end credits and on their bestselling album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends as a hidden track.[4]


Critical receptionEdit

The film received a rating of 66% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 44 reviews. The site's consensus: "A tense, smart prison break movie, The Escapist is a sharp debut from director Rupert Wyatt".[5]

Box officeEdit

The North American box office total for the film was $13,439 with an additional $374,735 internationally for a worldwide total of $388,174.[1]





In 2015, it was announced that Liam Neeson will star in a remake with Wyatt as a producer.[6]


  1. ^ a b "The Escapist". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  2. ^ "The Escapist - Brian Cox interview". 18 June 2008.
  3. ^ "The 'Not-so Notorious' Conor McGregor".
  4. ^ Viva la vida
  5. ^ "The Escapist Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  6. ^ Goldberg, Matt. "Liam Neeson to Star in Remake of Rupert Wyatt's THE ESCAPIST; Sean O'Keefe to Write the Script". Collider. Retrieved 19 May 2016.

External linksEdit