Director: George Basha
Starring: George Basha, Richard Green, Brian Eillson David Field, Franc Violi, Millie Rose Heywood, David Roberts. Australia. 1h 50m
While it doesn’t feel that there’s a shred of originality in this epic b-movie prison flick, there’s a lot of reports suggesting it’s based on a true story!? but i’m yet to verify these claims. Either way, fact or fiction won’t make it digest any easier. A harrowing story of a man who, through a one off accident ends up in prison for manslaughter. Unbeknownst to him there’s a hidden agenda which will see him fight a tougher sentence than any other inmate.
While his girl is being preyed on by strangers, Ray, a burly war veteran, steps in as a hero to defend her honor, the altercation ends in an accidental death. The father of the murdered bully makes a deal with the Prison Warden to make Rays stay unusually difficult. not that prison life isn’t hard enough. Rays struggles enough, working his way through cryptic prison politics, race wars, gang pressure, creepy showers and the occasional trip to the hole, but unlike Andy Dufranes he doesn’t have a guy who knows how to get things to ease his time inside.
Convict feels a bit amateurish, obviously with a small budget it can’t go all Shawshank, but the effort in having a fully comprehensive story pays off. It just needed a few more reputable actors in the mix, unfortunately the most seasoned of the bunch is David Roberts who maybe has about 5 minutes of screen time. Everyone plays their role and every role is expected, the good guy works in the library and the big scary fucker is the prison rapist.
There are harder and tougher prison flicks out there, in depth epics like A Prophet (2009) hit hard with it’s rag to riches story for a Parisian down and out. Then there are a couple of punch to gut flicks like R- Hit Hard Hit Hardest (2010) and Stoic (2000), which set a world inside where danger is in the very air the convicts breath. These all seem to have channeled into Convict at some point. The star/Director George Basha has tried to distance himself from these and make the story personal, he’s added a few ex cons into the mix for more authenticity.
Think you’ve felt pain boy, you ain’t seen nothing yet.– The Warden
It’s clear that George Basha’s intent was in the right place, you get the impression that this is going to be deeply emotie and gritty but sadly you have to make those big up yourself as the acting just isn’t convincing. There’s an interesting slagging match between the convicts and it’s just that, words! I’ve seen calmer conversations in Locked Up Raw end with a bigger ass kicking. For some reason the team thought that a newbie would be able to insult a seasoned well established gang member and both men would just sit side by side at a table and let the bad blood be forgotten?
There’s a few bloody shankings and some play with hierarchy. The guards enjoy their grotty extras, filming WAGs undressing and antagonising prisoners, if they have been paid to do so or not. The warden is a pussy though, and just throws orders while looking like Sid James. I have to admit that he doesn’t have the same authority as other greats such as Warden Norton (Shawshank) or even Bill Boss (Human Centipede 3) .
Without comparing the movie to the greats and looking at it on it’s own merits there’s just enough twists and turns to keep you watching, some people will be begging for their life back and others will begin to see the complexity of the love letter Basha is writing to men who have never had their freedom taken away from them. It’s not so much about being locked away but it’s about injustice and fighting for what’s right. While the film isn’t as brutal as others it’s ballsy.
Related: Shawshank Redemption (1994), R Hit hard hit first (2010), A prophet (2009)
Lists: Top 22 Prison Flicks