Based on 11 Critics
Based on 3 Users
  • Parker succeeds in making the prison into a full, real, rounded world, a microcosm of human behavior; I was reminded of e.e. cummings' novel The Enormous Room. The movie's art direction is especially good at recreating that world, as in a scene where Hayes and his friends try to escape down an old cistern. And there are visions into the inferno, as in a scene in the madhouse where the inmates circle forever around a stone pillar. The movie creates spellbinding terror, all right; my only objection is that it's so eager to have us sympathize with Billy Hayes. show more

  • Hard to call something this gratuitous entertainment but certainly lingers in the memory, thanks mainly to the bombast of Stone's script. show more

  • Alan Parker has directed the film as if he were a sniper: you never know when you're going to get hit next, but from the first moments you know you're being aimed at. The opening, with Hayes taping hash to his chest only to be apprehended at the airport, must have looked like standard stuff in Oliver Stone's script, but on screen it's unadulterated adrenalin, filmed with fast cuts timed in counterpoint to the sound of Hayes' pounding heart. [25 Oct 1978]

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