A critical examination of the tyranny of the Marcos regime, “Escape” is a reasonably entertaining action-adventure with two popular male stars in its cast. Though commercial prospects for this kind of fare are rather meager in the U.S., Chito Rono’s picture should travel the fest road and programs of Philippine cinema.
Set in 1972 and based on a true story, script was co-written by Roy C. Iglesias and Jose F. Lacaba, who collaborated with the late Lino Brocka on his films. Yarn begins with the arrest of two men, Geny Lopez (Christopher De Leon) and Serge Osmena (Richard Gomez), charged with conspiracy to assassinate Marcos.
Though members of the same privileged elite, the two men, who had never before met, could not have been more different in their outlooks and personalities. A successful businessman, Geny is efficient, rational and a bit conservative. In contrast, Serge is more spontaneous, amiable and emotional. Once arrested and thrown into jail, however, they are subjected to the same physical and mental torture, which of course unites them.
But even after their parents sacrifice their wealth to obtain their freedom, the two are kept in prison. When a hunger strike doesn’t yield results, their only chance at freedom is to orchestrate an ingenious escape.
With terrifying early scenes that effectively capture an atmosphere of fear and brutality, pic seems modeled on Costa-Gavras’ political thrillers. But once preparation for the breakout and its execution begin, the adventure assumes a more routine, familiar structure, which undercuts some of the genuine suspense. Still, “Escape” is satisfying both as a genre item and as a harrowing exploration of the peculiar evils of the Marcos era.