Release Date: 6 March 2020
Director: Francis Annan
Writer: Francis Annan, L.H. Adams
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Webber, Ian Hart
Based on the real-life prison break of two political captives, Escape From Pretoria is a race-against-time thriller set in the tumultuous apartheid days of South Africa.
Warning: Contains Spoilers
Before I start with the review, let me tell you a little about the background of this movie. `Escape From Pretoria` is set in the late '80s in Pretoria SA during the apartheid regime where White fascism was superior and gov't was persecuting the black majority. But this movie is totally based on a prison break and hardly shows any social activism or politics of that era.
Escape From Pretoria is a movie based on the memoir by South African anti-apartheid activist Tim Jenkin, Escape tells the story of how Jenkin (Daniel Radcliffe) and two fellow prisoners broke out of Pretoria Central in 1979, a little over a year after Jenkin and his African National Congress associate Stephen Lee (Daniel Webber) were handed long prison sentences (twelve and eight years, respectively) for distributing leaflets in support of banned organizations (ANC).
The movie opens with a tense sequence featuring Jenkin and Lee on a crowded street planting what looks like bombs, but turn out to be something closer to jack-in-the-boxes –designed to disperse leaflets with a literal bang, sending them flying all over the street (but not harming anyone). That’s enough to get the two arrested by a legal system designed to protect apartheid, and when they arrive at Pretoria, they’re surrounded by other political prisoners, including Denis Goldberg (Ian Hart), who was arrested alongside Nelson Mandela. Mandela, of course, is in a different prison miles away, because black and white prisoners are held separately. When Jenkin first arrives, one guard refers to him derisively as “the white Nelson Mandela,” and the character’s opening narration describes how he and Lee could not stand to participate in an oppressive system.
But otherwise, their privilege as white South Africans isn’t a major plot point in the movie. Mandela has been represented onscreen many times, so it’s not like his contributions to the movement have been erased, and Jenkin and Lee aren’t held up as anything like white saviors. Once they get into their daily prison routine, Escape drops most of its political elements and more closely resembles The Shawshank Redemption, Escape From Alcatraz, or Papillon (whose source novel supposedly inspired the real-life Jenkin to plan his escape), focusing on the careful planning required to pull off the complex breakout. As Jenkin crafts more than a dozen keys out of nothing but wood from the prison woodshop (and his own photographic memory from staring at guards’ key rings), Annan effectively builds anticipation and dread for what’s to come, even if the true-story disclaimer at the beginning offers the reasonable assurance of a happy ending.
There are no background details on any of the characters at all. The movie is showing only one fact that they were members of the ANC and they were against the apartheid regime. The characters were more concerned about their family members than about any politics which is not the fact because Tim Jenkin never saw his girlfriend again after the escape. The movie's main character Tim Jenkin's life is a lot more than just a prison break.
In a conclusion, I will tell you that If you are going to watch this movie in the hope to know more about Tom Jenkin's life then it might disappoint you as it's only showing the events from the time of his arrest till his escape from the prison.
On the other hand, if you are a fan of prison break thrillers then this is the right movie for you. It has all the content which represents the suspense, the thrill you can expect from this kind of movie. The music score is really good and suspenseful, It will keep you attached to the screen from start till end. The actors are up to the mark in their roles, their experience is putting a lot of energy into their characters.
This movie would have been so much better if it has more events related to Jenkin and his social activities and it could have been more inspiring in the current context of many countries like India and the USA. But still, the movie has everything to like if you have no interest in politics.
My Rating will be 7.5 out of 10 because this movie made me attached to the screen from the beginning and I didn't get bored for a single minute throughout the duration.
Final Score: 7.5/10
I will recommend watching this movie, Here is the trailer for the movie:
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