If you believe the Daily Mail, you're an idiot and should be shot through the brain, but you'll also think that modern day jails are the epitome of high class living. Cavier for breakfast, twice weekly holidays to the Seychelles and Sky Plus in every cell. When it comes to movie jails though its all nonce bashing and arse watching. Even the fairly sanitized Shawshank Redemption wouldn't beat around the bush when it came to a bit of 'man do bad thing in shower'. Now we have a British prison movie that doesn't skimp on the harsh reality of being locked up and instead portrays a cell as exactly that.
Coming off a bit like Porridge The Movie remade without the laughs. Brian Cox is Norman Stanley Fletcher, the wisened old crook and Dominic Cooper is Godber, the fresh faced new inmate. Except in this version Fletchers daughter is a smackhead and he needs to break out in order to help her. Oh yeah, and Godber is being raped in the shower but can't do anything about it because the rapist is brothers with the kingpin of the jail played by a really quite mean Damien Lewis. So not really like Porridge The Movie. There is no football match against the screws in this.
Taking a similar structure to Memento, but without the flashbacks, so not that similar, but it is because it runs two bits of the same story parellel... so there. Firstly we have the before they break out, then the while they are breaking out. And it works really well. Leaving you with the sweatiest palms since No Country For Old Men. This clever-clever style adds to the tension of will they make it out, for at times you may be screaming 'how the bloody hell are they gonna get out of this one?' even though you know they do.
Never is this clearer than when the finale comes. And my initial feeling was that it had soured what had come before. The hard work put in by the flawless cast, the atmospheric soundtrack of metal on metal, the showy but not over the top direction all seems to have been lost by a cheap parlour trick. That is, until the next day when it dawns on you that the plan has come together. And in the words of Face, I love it when that happens.