Brute Force

Between the sadistic guard captain and the intense escape sequence, this could have been a great film. Unfortunately, it wastes a lot of time on cheezy backstories for several of the prisoners that all seem to suggest they all went to prison for love. It seemed like a cop out after the brutality the film presented to show these as misunderstood, romantic men who just went too far for their women.

Still, Munsey is a vicious villain. This film features some fairly gruesome moments of violence and death, and Munsey is at the root of all of them, one way or another. He's menacing, cold, and prim. He would not have been out of place in a film about Nazis. He's terrifying, and his performance put me in mind of Carl Panzram's autobiography, in which the notorious killer saves his worst invective for the guards at the various prisons he spent most of his life in.

The film sets up a contrast between Munsey and the more compassionate prison doctor, but it doesn't really follow through. The ideas presented are left in the wake of the awesome climax, and even though the doctor gets the last word, it's more a down note than any capping thought.

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