Akilla's Escape Movie Review
An immersion into the cyclical violence that faces so many urban (and prominently Black) boys, the neo-noir drama Akilla’s Escape is a visually mesmerizing and well told experience with only one drawback: its underlying themes have been played out repeatedly over the last several decades.
Directed by Charles Officer and starring slam poet Saul Williams and Thamela Mpumlwana, the movie follows Akilla as a grown man--who is on the verge of going fully legitimate--and as a teenager as he succumbs to a life of crime. The much older Akilla breaks up an armed robbery, but instead of going to the police he sets out to save the teenager at his mercy, hoping to make up for the sins of his own past.
Akilla’s Escape is a story told with passion and vision; Officer, who also co-wrote the film with Wendy Motion Brathwaite, goes all in, injecting it with a vibrancy and power most filmmakers only dream of. From the film’s first shot to the last, the movie has a way of capturing your attention and shaking you along the way.
Strip away the aesthetics and you still have a decent story, heightened by the performances by Williams and Mpumlwana. Though never sharing the screen for obvious reasons, the two effectively mirror each other, their stories and experiences intertwined in ways that go beyond what Officer and Brathwaite put to paper. However, there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the story itself--while the thematic structure of the film resonates, the plot details quickly dissolve into the ether, the story beats largely forgettable. It’s stuff we’ve seen before, just told a little differently.
Cinematically, Akilla’s Escape is a force to be reckoned with; as a noir, which it markets itself as, it’s less compelling. Recommended nonetheless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.