Jailbreak (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

A special police team is sent to transfer a high risk prisoner from holding to a local prison where the Butterfly clan should not be able to get to him.  Once at the prison, things go south fast and the team members find themselves in a fight for their lives.

Written by Jimmy Henderson and Michael Hodgson with Henderson directing, Jailbreak takes an Assault on Precinct 13 type of premise and transfers it to an action film with tons of fights.  The film’s characters are a bit on the thin side while the excuse to get them all fighting is thinner even.  The film is basically one long excuse for as many fight sequences as they could cram in there without consideration to story or character development.  Here the film is made to create fights, but the fights are only exiting or interesting the first few times, after about the halfway point of the film, they become repetitive and tedious as they contain a lot of the same moves, the same ideas, and the same stunts.

The film’s cast is led by French stuntman Jean-Paul Ly and a crew of local actors.  With the help of another French stuntman, Laurent Plancel, he trained the film’s crew in action and fight.  Unfortunately, their lack of experience shows and the film’s writing and directing does not help in terms of creating a more compelling story to give them shining moments.  When the fight between the two Frenchmen eventually comes, it feels forced and anti-climactic.  Each stuntman has a decent work pedigree, but being good at stunts and fighting is not all that is needed to create a compelling film.  Here the cast’s inexperience shows in terms of how limited they are in their fighting and the film’s lack of an interesting or original story hurts these stunts.  In a more interesting story, done in a more entertaining way, fewer fights with more variety to them would have had a much stronger impact.

Jailbreak is an ambitious film that looks like its budget, something that is not always a bad thing. Here as the story and character are thin and feel like they are simply excuses to film fight scenes, the fight scenes become the main attraction.  This is something that can work when done spectacularly, but here the fights feel repetitive and without much interest.  The money spent to get the two French stuntmen may have been better spent on a one stronger, more experienced stunt choreographer. Fans of fight films should be entertained somewhat with the first half of the film but most will eventually get bored with the same fights in a rinse and repeat pattern.  Jailbreak had a lot of potential and has a lot of heart, but both are sadly underused and misused creating a film that is not memorable and easily forgotten once the credits roll.

Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 13th to August 2nd.