Fox // 2009 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // July 21st, 2009
Prepare yourself for the truth.
At the end of the fourth season of Prison Break, it looked like all the loose ends were tied up, and the series reached a bittersweet but appropriate ending. Turns out, though, there was a loose end, and so Prison Break: The Final Break is here on DVD, to wrap up the adventures of Scofield and company for real this time.
After they were exonerated for their crimes at the end of the whole "Scylla" thing, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller, Stealth) and the Fox River guys prepare for their new, hopefully caper-free life. Unfortunately, Scofield's lady love Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies, The Celestine Prophecy) is still wanted by the law. She's quickly caught and thrown in a Miami women's prison.
In the adjacent men's prison, former megavillain the General (Leon Russom, The Big Lebowski) hears of this and announces a huge bounty for whoever can kill Sara. Learning of this, Scofield decides he had no other choice but to break Sara out. With his brother Lincoln (Dominic Purcell, Blade: Trinity) and his pal Sucre (Amaury Nolasco, Street Kings), Scofield comes up with a plan. Things get complicated, though, as edgy former FBI agent Alex Mahone (William Fitchner, The Dark Knight), shows up claiming to help, but as the feds offer him his old job back, can he be trusted?
I have to wonder what the origin of this project was. Could this have been the plans for a fifth season? I can imagine them stretching this out for an entire season if they wanted. Or, was this an originally proposed ending or the fourth season that didn't get used? Or, did the creators feel that they needed this final capper to truly complete the story? I have no idea.
With only two hours instead of an entire season to play with, The Final Break moves quickly, at a quicker pace than the series ever did. All the scenes of Sara's struggles behind bars, Scofield's plotting, Mahone's possible duplicity, and more just zip by from one to the next. What's missing here is any of the dramatic intensity found in the series. This is almost all plot and action, with little character development. Lincoln and Sucre are left with almost nothing to do except stand around and look tough. Also thanks to the shorter running time, the actual escape seems a lot less elaborate or ingenious than the escapes from Fox River and Sona, and more like the Scylla card schemes from throughout the fourth season. Whereas Fox River truly seemed inescapable, this prison comes across as a lot less fortress-like.
It's not all a loss, though. Sara is locked up with Gretchen (Jodi Lynn O'Keefe, She's All That), who provides a lot of the action as she beats up the other lady convicts in an attempt to align herself with Sara. In what is arguably the most memorable scene, Gretchen delivers an astoundingly brutal kill after an extended fight scene. In the men's prison, slimy killer T-Bag (Robert Knepper, Hitman) still tries to worm his way into the general's good favor, and he's as freaky as always. Fincher continues to be great as his character's loyalties are once again divided.
Another difference from this movie and the overall series is that this one is a lot more open with the emotional aspects of the story. At one point, Scofield bursts out with anger, yelling at a warden. Later, he's more open about his feelings for Sara than he's ever been. This seems incongruous in a series in which the characters normally play the emotion with subtlety, keeping their feelings close to the chest. It could be argued that this is the progression of the character, in that he's able to have that emotional release after everything he's been through.
For this review, DVD Verdict received an advance screener disc, the quality of which could possibly not be the same as the ones found on store shelves. That said, the visual transfer continues to show the excellence that this series has shown on DVD. The opening shot, featuring two of the characters looking out over the ocean, is an eye-popping marvel. The sound is great as well, especially when the score kicks in. The only extras, sadly, are two deleted scenes. One of these is a nice moment with Fitchner, but I had hoped for more behind-the-scenes info from creators.
What happens in The Final Break will alter your perception of what happened in the series finale. Whereas the show's ending was bittersweet, when seen in the light of this movie, now it feels more tragic -- or just very sad at least.
Also, you probably don't need to be told this, but know that this isn't the place to start if you've never seen Prison Break before.
This epilogue is more of a curiosity for the Prison Break loyal, not quite up to the standard of the show. For die-hard fans only.
Not guilty, because if it were guilty, these guys would just escape again.
Review content copyright © 2009 Mac McEntire; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site