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Stars love to entertain audiences with prisoner escapes. Let’s take a look at the most gripping, exciting prison breaks in film history.

The 10 best prison breaks in film

Dreaming of becoming a film star?

Every corner of the world hosts people with the desire to become a megastar one day. Unfortunately, not everyone gets the opportunity to fulfill this dream; heartbreaking, we know. Based on dance, action, romance, comedy, and technical subjects, movies are slapped onto the big screen. Additionally, biographies of famous people are a growing theme in movies to portray the story of a nation’s legend. 

Stars love to entertain audiences with their acting skills, especially when it comes to prisoner escapes. Let’s take a look at the very best prison breaks in film history: the most gripping stories and most exciting scenes.

A Prayer Before Dawn

A Prayer Before Dawn decorated the silver screen on July 20th, 2018 with its first release in the United Kingdom, followed by the U.S. release in August. Its story originates from the book A Prayer Before Dawn: My Nightmare in Thailand’s Prisons by Billy Moore. The drama starred Joe Cole and was directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and written by Jonathan Hirschbein & Nick Saltrese.

A Prayer Before Dawn follows the true story of Billy Moore, a British boxer who used his boxing skills to fight for freedom and escape prison. Audiences and critics alike loved the dramatization.

Runaway Train

Runaway Train is an American thriller set in Alaska and directed by Andrei Konchalovsky. This artful flick premiered on December 6, 1985 and followed a prison escape plot.   

A young Danny Trejo held every eye transfixed in Runaway Train’s story following two escaped convicts and a female railroad employee (Rebecca DeMornay) who were stuck on the titular runaway train. After the death of the train’s lead engineer, the escaped prisoners had to figure things out. Later, Voight and Roberts were both nominated for Academy Awards for their marvelous roles.


A combined production of the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada, independent English drama Room was directed by Lenny Abrahamson on a script by Emma Donoghue (based on her novel with the same title from 2010). Actress Brie Larson plays a woman who was in prison for seven years along with her five-year-old child. 

By escaping, she gives her young son his first experience of enjoying the outside world. Apart from Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, and William H. Macy starred. Shot in Toronto, Room won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and grossed $36.3 million on a $13 million budget. 

Shot Caller

Shot Caller is a popular American crime drama directed and written by Ric Roman Waugh. The film was scored by composer Antonio Pinto and stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Omari Hardwick, Jon Bernthal, Lake Bell, Emory Cohen, Holt McCallany, Evan Jones, Jeffrey Donovan, and Benjamin Bratt. 

Shot Caller follows the remarkable story of a family man who turns into a hardened prison gangster and escapes in an exciting break. Shot Caller premiered July 20th, 2017 and grossed $3.4 million.

A Man Escaped

A Man Escaped, produced by Alain Poiré & Jean Thuillier in 1956, is an exciting story about Fontaine (François Leterrier), a member of the French resistance, who gets an opportunity to escape from a car carrying him to jail only to be caught and beaten badly for his attempt.

In 99 minutes, A Man Escaped successfully encapsulates the entire story of prisoner Fontaine. On 11th November 1956, the film debuted on the silver screen in France. It was released in two languages: French and German.

Public Enemies

Michael Mann wrote and co-produced Public Enemies with Kevin Misher. The film’s famous jailbreaking scene features the all-star cast (Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Stephen Dorff, and Stephen Lang) putting their hearts and souls into their performances that had audiences riveted.

Public Enemies is based on a true story and was scored by excellent composer Elliot Goldenthal. The story charts the rise of America’s great crime wave of the 30s and the birth of the FBI, which innovated modern methods to battle crime. Public Enemies grossed $214.1 million, more than double its $100 million budget.

Midnight Express

American drama Midnight Express, produced by David Puttnam, was based on the true story of a young American student who tried to smuggle hashish out of Turkey and was sent to Turkish prison. The film was directed by Alan Parker starred Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, Paul L. Smith, Irene Miracle, John Hurt, and Bo Hopkins.

Midnight Express’s portrayal of the conditions and workers in the Turkish prison initially drew heavy criticism, but independent investigation proved the story elements were indeed based in reality. After much ado, Midnight Express was released on October 6, 1978.

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo, based on the Alexandre Dumas novel and produced in the UK, U.S., and Ireland, was released in 2002, following the classic story of sailor Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) transforming from a naive young man to a self-made aristocrat. The adventure drama adaptation was a box office success, celebrated by all who saw it. Its jailbreaking sequence was a special standout scene.

Escape Plan

Escape Plan was directed by Mikael Håfström in 2013. This American action thriller stars Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Caitriona Balfe. It was written by Miles Chapman and Jason Keller and was the first time the two action icons (Stallone & Schwarzenegger) were paired as co-leads.  

Stallone played the role of Ray Breslin, who was incarcerated in the world’s most secret and secure prison and used his skills to escape with the support of his companion inmates. Escape Plan was released on October 18th, 2013 to mixed reviews, grossing a very respectable $137 million worldwide on its $54 million total budget.


Director Bong Joon-ho succeeded in gathering a fantastic cast for this science fiction adaptation of the French novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, although 80% of the film is in English. The movie’s well-executed prison escape scene thrilled audiences. Box office proceeds topped $86 million against the film’s budget of $40 million. 

Snowpiercer clocks in at a long 126 minutes, but its spark holds viewers’ interest till the very end.

There’s always a story behind every story, and a conscious mind will realize it and want to watch them again and again. The suspense of jailbreaks gets everyone to forget their surroundings and escape along with the protagonists.

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