Not two weeks after “Guns Akimbo” Daniel Radcliffe rewards us with yet another great performance, this time in a tightly made, old-school B-like jailbreak thriller set against a historically true background. Francis Annan’s “Escape from Pretoria”, while flawed in some areas, gives legitimate thrills and keeps you excited all throughout, as you follow the trio of men on the quest of freedom.
“Escape from Pretoria” is based on the prison escape of two political captives from Pretoria Central Prison in South Africa in 1979. The movie starts with an introduction of the political events taking place in South Africa during that time, more precisely the Apartheid. Soon after Tim Jenkin (Daniel Radcliffe) and Stephen Lee (Daniel Webber) get arrested and sent to prison for 8 or more years, there they meet politically related Denis Goldberg (Ian Hart) and their third accomplice Leonard Fontaine (Mark Leonard Winter). Most of the time we spent inside the prison, following the routine and efforts of our three main heroes – the story focuses a lot on creating suspense and in doing so has it has created many good and very enjoyable sequences. It’s all about the thrill of finding the means to reach freedom. “Escape from Pretoria” is a neat and successful exercise in a familiar formula, utilized since way back when, Clint Eastwood’s “Escape from Alcatraz” has the same qualities. Includes also great attention to detail. The pacing’s nice and even, with some great pick-ups here and there. With the focus being on atmosphere, excitement and genre mechanics, the script is lacking in the area of depth, more precisely the characters, there’s not a lot of set-up or backstory for them. However, the performances make up for that. Visually, the movie excels as well, using various cool camera tricks and touching up the suspense with technical means, the cinematic language is on point all throughout.
“Escape from Pretoria” is a great procedural thriller, a successful execution of genre mechanics, a carefully planned movie about planning. If it lacks depth, it definitely possesses a good entertainment value, further fulfilled with great acting work. Good prison-set movies don’t come out all that often. My rating: 7/10.
Review by TwistedContent