Prison Break: The Final Break (2009, USA)

Prison Break: The Final Break - Aisha Hands as Guard Cowler and Sarah Wayne Callies as Dr Sara Tancredi

Not the TV series, exactly, but what was (until they announced a new season to run in 2016) the final feature-length Prison Break episode, which is supposed to stand on its own and be like a condensed fifth season. It’s a little tricky for me; I watched the first series, enjoyed it, but immediately lost interest once it went into a second, third and fourth season. There are consequently a few gaps in my understanding of what happened in-between, which Mr Google has since been kind enough to attempt to fill.

Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and the pregnant Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) are celebrating their quickie wedding on the beach when Sara is arrested for the murder of Christina (whom you wouldn’t know was Michael’s mother or any of The Company connection if you were coming to this cold), and sent to the Miami-Dade Penitentiary, Women’s Facility. A swag of people are waiting for her: the ruling gang, led by the enigmatic ‘Daddy’ (Lori Petty), and the guards, who know very well how as a doctor at the Fox River State Penitentiary she helped Michael and seven others escape, and cost a heap of guards their jobs. The guards rough her up, and in exclusively targeting her face show great care not to harm her unborn child.

At the next-door men’s prison at Miami-Dade, ‘The General’ Jonathan Krantz (Leon Russom) puts a $100,000 price on Sara’s head, which is passed on to Gretchen Morgan (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). For people like me who are not familiar with the back story, it has to just be assumed that there is a reason for the contract, and their prior connection to Gretchen is neither alluded to nor explained. No matter. We understand that Sara is in danger.

Enter Michael and his crew: brother Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) and ex-Federal agent Alex Mahone (William Fichtner), the latter of whom is keen to get his badge back and no-one can be sure of whose side he’s on. They can’t abide Sara serving years in prison, so it becomes a race to break her out, with all the meticulous planning that might have taken a whole season being squeezed into an hour and a half.

For those who had followed the series, this finale no doubt tied up a lot of loose ends. For those watching it as a self-contained feature, it is an entertaining escape flick, with some classic elements: a quirky top dog in Daddy and her loyal ‘family’ of hangers-on, several fabulous cameos from Robert Knepper as ‘T-Bag’ Bagwell, one of those magnificent prison movie visits between Sara and Michael which has been going all of 1 minute 12 seconds when the Warden calls, “That’s it!” and terminates it, and wonderfully audacious escape plotting with ingenuity, twists and turns, and ridiculous, extraordinary leaps of faith.

I’m not a big fan of big conspiracy dramas where every second person is a covert agent working for a covert organisation and there is more double crossing than crossing. So, in that respect this ‘feature’ suits me; virtually all of The Company machinations and the Scylla intrigue having been set aside. What we are left with is another dramatic escape bid, albeit one which relies so heavily on outrageous assumptions about the layout of the prison and its security systems that the bid is almost tongue-in-cheek.

By the end, when the much-heavier Michael has apparently sacrificed himself for Sara’s and his unborn child’s safety, the rest of the cast seem to struggle to muster up an emotional response, and it looks like no-one can be bothered much anymore. If there is a new season, one hopes they can rediscover their mojo.

Prison Break: The Final Break #2 - Lori Petty as 'Daddy' Prison Break: The Final Break #3 - Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as Gretchen Morgan, followed by Sarah Wayne Callies as Dr Sara Tancredi

Posted on October 18th, 2015 at 3:41 pm. Updated on October 18th, 2015 at 3:48 pm.

#178 in the Top 500

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