That nice Kevin Bacon first appeared as a fraternity novice in National Lampoon’s Animal House back in 1978 and throughout the Eighties, greatly entertained us with such frivolities as Footloose. But, somewhere along the line, with films like Criminal Law (1988) and The River Wild, film-makers tapped into the wild side of Kevin Bacon.
Here in director Marc Rocco’s sizzling 1995 true-story thriller he gives an amazing turn as real-life Alcatraz prison escapee Henri Young, who, though beaten, degraded and confined to solitary for more three years, survives and triumphs.
This is his performance of a lifetime, and a must-see slice of Bacon.
Gary Oldman has a grand old time as the villain, assistant warden Milton Glenn, who was given free reign by his duty-shirking superior, to treat Young inhumanely. In a very different kind of performance, Christian Slater does well as eager and idealistic young attorney James Stamphill, who is given the impossible case of defending Young in his trial for murdering a fellow inmate by stabbing him in the neck, attempting to save him from the gas chamber.
The distinguished, muscular, concerned screenplay is by Dan Gordon.
Embeth Davidtz, William H Macy, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brad Dourif, R Lee Ermey, Mia Kirshner are also in the cast.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4325
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