Escape from Pretoria Review

The Escape From Pretoria cover art

Escape from Pretoria is a 2020 thriller film, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Daniel Webber. It is based on the real-life prison escape by three political prisoners in South Africa in 1979. Escape from Pretoria is now currently available to watch on Amazon Prime Video at no extra cost to Prime subscribers.

Escape from Pretoria is the incredible true story of two white South Africans who carry out anti-apartheid missions in South Africa, before being arrested and imprisoned. Whilst in prison, they plot an escape using handmade wooden keys to unlock doors that block their path to escape. The story really is fascinating and the film does a fantastic job at conveying the intelligence and planning put in by the characters in their attempts to escape.

Daniel Radcliffe plays the lead role as Tim Jenkin, the main protagonist in the anti-apartheid missions and the brains behind the escape operation. Daniel Radcliffe is brilliant as the character of Tim Jenkin and his South African accent is remarkably convincing. In recent years Daniel Radcliffe has been somewhat plagued as a result of his early childhood success and even I have to admit, it’s hard not to think of him as Harry Potter, but his performance in Escape from Pretoria goes someway to dispel this notion and showcases his fine acting ability. The rest of the cast are equally as excellent and convincing; impressive when you consider the cast to be predominantly Australian actors playing South African characters.

Escape from Pretoria really is edge of your seat stuff, from the get go you are instantly captivated in the intense nature of the film. The gripping jailbreaking action is where the film is at its best and I was really engrossed in the craft and inventive way in which the prisoners plotted their escape from captivity. Whilst this prison escape story isn’t as glamorous and explosive as others, its calculated and polished plan make it just as engaging – plus it’s based on a true story which make it even more impressive! At times the pace of the film does suffer a little, but this is simply as a result of the measured nature of the story.

Whilst Escape from Pretoria is hardly a ‘period’ piece, being set just 40 years ago, the film does a great job of capturing a late seventies South Africa. We don’t get a huge amount of screen time outside of the prison walls, but in the few scenes that we do see, I was pleasantly surprised with the set and costume design which were indicative of the times. Plus as a result of the tense, thrilling nature of the film we also get a fantastic musical score, with the film even including two pieces of music by Mozart, just to add to the drama!

An awe-inspiring tale, Escape to Pretoria brings to light a remarkable story of a group of unsung heroes. The truth element behind the film certainly results in it being even more captivating, but the bravery and resistance these men showed at the heart of the story make the film truly bittersweet. I’m pleased that this story has been reimagined for the big screen to educate and inform audiences on such an important topic. 

The Verdict

Clever, gripping and intense, Escape from Pretoria is the remarkable true story about a group of unsung heroes who use brains instead of brawn, in the face of adversity.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.


You can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime Video here (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).

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