Lucky Break
Love and war. Jimmy and Annabel (Nesbitt and Williams) practice their big dance number...
dir Peter Cattaneo
scr Ronan Bennett
with James Nesbitt, Olivia Williams, Timothy Spall, Christopher Plummer, Lennie James, Bill Nighy, Ron Cook, Frank Harper, Celia Imrie, Raymond Waring, Julian Barratt, Pete McNamara
release 24.Aug.01; US 12.Oct.01
01/UK 1h48

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
the great escape Full Monty director Cattaneo is back with another comic tale with bittersweet overtones. It works quite well, even if it never really takes off properly. When a bank robbery goes wrong, Jimmy and Rudy (Nesbitt and James) are thrown into an isolated British prison and are soon trying to find a way out. Soon they stumble on a scam to produce the warden's (Plummer) vanity project, a stage musical about Admiral Nelson, during which they can go over the wall. But there are complications galore, including the fact that Jimmy is given the title role ... and he begins to fall for his leading lady, played by the prison counsellor (Williams). Meanwhile, the head guard (Cook) and a brutal fellow prisoner (Harper) have their own plans.

It's all engaging enough to keep our attention, even if it never really wins us over. Its primary asset is Nesbitt, who's energetic and quite funny as he juggles the various plots and schemes with deadpan resignation and inventiveness. As usual Spall steals the film as his cellmate, a soft-hearted oaf who discovers long-hidden talents and gives the film its emotional core. Cattaneo keeps things moving fairly smoothly, but he never cranks up either the comic or the caper elements. It's nice to once again find a comedy that dares to touch on some very serious themes, but it badly needs to build to a big crescendo. The stage musical/escape sequence provides the opportunity for this inspired hilarity, but here the film only delivers a fraction of the laughs and thrills it could have. All in all it's just not quite adventurous, humorous, romantic or dramatic enough to be the big success it should be. But put all together it's still decent escapism, pun intended.
themes, language, violence cert 12tbc 16.Jul.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall