Critical Condition: Escape at Dannemora

Escape at Dannemora | SoHo, 8.30 Monday

☆☆☆☆ “In 2015, two men tunneled out of Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. They had the help of a civilian woman who worked there, with whom both had sex. A multimillion-dollar manhunt followed. One inmate was shot and killed, the other was captured. The seedy sexual details and Shawshank Redemption-style escape made the story of the prison break ripe for Hollywood treatment, and that’s exactly what Showtime has given it in Escape at Dannemora, a limited series starring Benicio del Toro, Paul Dano and Patricia Arquette as the trio at the centre of the tale.” — USA Today.

☆☆☆☆ “Ben Stiller directs an ambitious, dramatic limited series — in which he does not appear — that looks and feels like a ’70s New York thriller … The first five episodes are setup, immersing viewers deep in Dannemora life inside and outside the prison and in the characters’ elaborately twisted psyches as they plan their escape over the course of several months. The sixth is a format-breaking flashback to how they all ended up in the prison, and the feature-length finale covers the 23-day manhunt that riveted the country.” — TV Guide.

☆☆☆☆ “Unfortunately, all the top-notch acting can’t quite overcome the pacing problems of the series. It takes five episodes to get out of the prison and even Stiller’s most impressive and creative efforts at illuminating all the discovery, digging and sweat it took to get there can’t make it more exciting … The constraints of the genre, coupled with characters you ultimately don’t care about, end up undercutting the best of Escape at Dannemora‘s intentions.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆☆ “A lot of conscientious effort has gone into reconstructing events and rendering the small-town settings, and Dannemora works sufficiently well as a ticktock account of the story. Del Toro and especially Dano are good in the prison scenes … Stiller, directing his first full-on drama, presents the routines and milieus of the prison convincingly, though he indulges in the occasional superfluous tracking shot or odd camera angle.” — New York Times.

☆☆ “With a still-expanding TV landscape demanding more content, real-life crime stories provide networks with ideal source material, rich in complications of psychology and plot. But unlike, say, recent FX miniseries about O.J. Simpson and Andrew Cunanan, the Dannemora saga does not immediately suggest political resonance … The story falls short of urgent relevance, and it didn’t need to be told over seven hours.” — Variety.

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