Run time: 130 mins
Charlie Hunnam channels ‘Cooler King’ Steve McQueen in this gritty remake of the classic prison drama.
Hunnam plays the real-life Henri “Papillon” Charrière, a safe cracker whose best-selling novel inspired the pair of screen adaptations. After pulling a job in 1931 Paris, Charrière is eager to leave the criminal world behind for the good life with his girlfriend, Nenette (Eve Hewson). When he’s framed for a mob killing and sent off to a prison hell worse than Shawshank, Papi links up with Louis Dega (Rami Malek), a speccy, vulnerable counterfeiter whom he offers protection in exchange for Louis funding his eventual escape.
Following a botched attempt to break free, the Warden condemns him to solitary confinement for two years where he is subjected to brutality and starvation. Finally released from the hole and determined to win his freedom, he makes one final play to do what no one has done before; escape Devil’s Island.
Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman brought star power back in 1973. Hunnam and Malek have a little way to go yet. However, like the best prison movies, Papillon remains a testament to the power of hope. (Research Chris Coetsee)