Top 5 Movie Guide: Prison Break Movies

In this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide we dive right into what Snow (Guy Pearce) is trying to do in the just-released "Lockout": escape from prison. Yes, he went in voluntarily, but the escape won't be nearly as easy, assuming he even makes it out. So with that as inspiration for the list, we decided to compile our favorite films featuring a prison escape. Regardless of how they got in, all of the below films focus at least as aspect of the plot on the escape itself.

We left the category as open as that, so any parameters being put on will come directly from the individual writer. But other than that, hit the jump to see which films we call our Top Five Prison Escape Films.

Alex Schopp -
No real parameters for my selections. I've been pretty confident in my top five films of this category for a while now. These are simply my favorites.

     1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This film recently broke into my top 10 of all-time, after years of just missing the cut. The movie is so fantastically done, and I love that if you're just watching the movie with no knowledge of what it is, you have no idea it's even an escape movie until the very end! I believe this should have won best picture in '94.
     2. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
I remember watching this movie when it first came out. I've loved it ever since. Great characters, and a fantastic revenge plot. The parts in the prison are definitely some of my favorites.
     3. The Next Three Days (2010)
This gets bonus points because the escape itself is so epic and elaborate. I remember the first time I watched this, I was blown away. I probably watched it 10 times in that next month, making sure every group I was around saw it.
     4. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
What's cool is that this is semi-based on a true story about the only four men to ever escape from Alcatraz Prison. The process for this escape was so intricate - which really is the backbone for any good prison escape film.
     5. Escape from L.A. (1996)
For one, it's not a metal bars prison. And two, I already advertise about this movie too much anyway. It's a fun watch though, and definitely a unique take on the genre. Plus it does get some bonus points for being of the same cloth as "Lockout".

Ben Foutch -

     1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

     2. Fortress (1992)

     3. Con Air (1997)

     4. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

     5. Escape From New York (1981)

Derek Clem -

     1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

     2. Con Air (1997)

     3. The Fugitive (1993)

     4. U.S. Marshals (1998)

     5. Bronson (2008)

Nathan Hinds -

Don't ask me the specific criteria for this list because frankly, I don't know myself. One thing though: the protagonist of the film had to be the one orchestrating the escape, which is why "Con Air" isn't on my list.

     1. Shawshank Redemption (1994)

I will be surprised if this isn't number 1 on everyone's list(unless someone has stipulations that don't allow it). And no offense to "Forrest Gump", its still a great movie, but this was the best picture from 1994.
     2. Celda 211 (Cell 211) (2009)
My all-time favorite foreign language film (spanish), and arguably the greatest prison movie ever. If Shawshank and Con Air (again, not on this list) didn't have such high nostalgic value, this would probably be Number 1 on my list involving all prison/prisoner-escape films. This film makes other prison films look like kid stuff. Thanks to my friend Doug Greene who recommended this powerhouse film to me.
     3. Tango and Cash (1989)
For those who want a movie that defines our "Pure Rockin'ness" category of our reviews, look no further. Don't take this movie too seriously and your guaranteed to have one rockin good time.
     4. Rescue Dawn (2006)
Let's take a break from the prison scene and move to a P.O.W. camp. This movie gives us an entertaining and gripping performance from Christian Bale, but the thing that makes this movie more amazing is that its true.
     5. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
One of Paul Newman's most iconic roles (and the guy had a lot to choose from). This film also provided the intro for my favorite Guns N' Roses song ever.

Andy Schopp -
Turns out, there are actually a lot of good movies in this category! I tried to spread out the tones a bit while staying as honest as I could. If I had factored in only watchability, then both of the Snake Plissken movies would have made it, but that didn't truly define this selection.

     1. The Shawshank Redemption (1997)

     2. Escape from L.A. (1996)

     3. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

     4. The Next Three Days (2010)

     5. Ernest Goes to Jail (1990)

Honorable Mention: "Chained Heat" (1983) - Don't lie to yourselves, it's worth at least an Honorable Mention.

So there we have it, our top five films featuring a prison escape. The big winner this week (to little surprise): "The Shawshank Redemption". Not only did this movie place on every list, it accomplished a feat never captured from a Top 5'er before - it was the number one selection on all five lists! I don't think there's any doubt that when looking for a Prison Escape film, "The Shawshank Redemption" is the place to start. Such an amazing story with great performances across the board. Outside of that monster, we still had films with multiple showings, but surprisingly, nothing with more than two appearances. This might be the oddest list we've ever had - one film that takes everyone's top spot, and then a combination of 16 different films all filling in the other 20 spots. Anyway, the films with multiple appearances were "The Count of Monte Cristo", "The Next Three Days", Cool Hand Luke", "Escape from L.A.", and "Con Air". Each of those is deemed by the Slackers slightly more important than the rest of the field, but with so much variety, there are endless areas of this genre to dive into.

Hopefully this is a resourceful guide for all of your Prison Break Movie needs. We hope these lists help you to expand your knowledge in this genre, and as always, we highly encourage you to check out all of the above-mentioned films.

Happy watching!