Blu-ray Review: The Escape of Prisoner 614 (2018)

Now Available 

Bookmark and Share

Nice and polite if not exactly bright, in writer/director Zach Golden's dry 1960s set comedy The Escape of Prisoner 614, the two deputies of the Shandaken Sheriff's Department (played by Martin Starr and Jake McDorman) spend their days acting out fake surrenders in the woods and eating for free in the local diner.

After they're fired by their intimidating superior (Ron Perlman) for their total lack of arrests and discover that life without a badge means they actually have to pay for their meals, the two vow to impress the sheriff enough to get their old jobs back by tracking down a recent prison escapee (George Sample III).

A stellar short film masquerading as a disappointing feature-length endeavor, while the idiotic Three Stooges by way of O Brother, Where Art Thou? style escapades of Prisoner's main characters prove amusing enough for the film's first act, Golden's tonally awkward work starts to run out of ideas before we've even reached the halfway point.

But just when you've begun to write the film off (like the friend I was watching it with who bowed out during its meandering second act), Prisoner finds a way to rebound thanks to a thrillingly original O. Henryesque conclusion.

Undeniably talented as a writer, although Golden still needs to work on pacing and tone, his inventive banter is bolstered by Prisoner's terrific cast of character actors.

Never once giving into the ridiculousness of the goings-on by hamming it up for the camera, the crackerjack chemistry of scene-stealers Starr and McDorman helps sell the nonsense right from the start. Unfortunately for Prisoner however, acting can only go so far and Golden's work is in need of both a stronger plot and character arc to successfully carry the film from start to finish.

And while it's hard to recommend as a mainstream comedy overall, film students interested in writing and editing (and particularly those with an interest in short filmmaking) might want to give Prisoner a look to weigh its pros, cons, as well as evaluate what the feature-length film got right, and what – as a short – it didn't need to get wrong.

Text ©2018, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.