Escape From Pretoria Review: Daniel Radcliffe's Jailbreak Drama Is Intriguing But Lacks Excitement

It's based on a real-life prison break.

Escape from Pretoria (PG)

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Webber, Ian Hart, Mark Leonard Winter

Directed by Francis Annan

Daniel Radcliffe has a new broom. While it’s no Nimbus 2000, it’s still ‘magical’ in its own way.  At least to his character.

He plays Tim Jenkin, an inmate serving time in the Pretoria Maximum Security Prison for working with Nelson Mandela’s outlawed ANC in Apartheid-era South Africa. It’s on the end of a sweeper that Jenkin attaches a homemade — or rather workshop-made — wooden key to facilitate his getaway.

A frigging wooden key?

It’s a fascinating true story but the movie it inspired isn’t despite earnest performances by the cast (notably Harry Potter alum Ian Hart, aka Professor Quirrell, plays Jenkin’s jailbird-mentor). 

The parts where Jenkin plots his escape are engaging but the rest of Francis Annan’s adaptation is surprisingly inert.  Even when Jenkin finally breaks free (spoiler!), you don’t quite share his excitement. 

escape from pretoria inset pic
Behind bars: Daniel Radcliffe and Daniel Webber can't wait to check out the rec room. 

The movie is released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Jenkin’s daring feat. The Shawshank Redemption turns 26 this year. Go watch that and figure out what Escape from Pretoria is missing. (** ½)

Photos: Shaw Organisation 

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