The greatest escape adventure ever told

Easily identifiable by his butterfly tattoo, Henri ‘Papillon’ Charrière (Charlie Hunnam) is sent to prison for the murder of a pimp. Ever resourceful, he quickly forms a bond with physically weak forger Louis Dega (Mr Robot’s Rami Malek). A series of escape bids lead the two men to the notorious Devil’s Island, where Papillon’s desire to be free reaches a final, deadly hurdle.

Poster for the prison-escape action drama PapillonSome of the memorable moments of the 1973 film are missing (there are no crocodiles or lepers here), but there’s so much incident in Charrière’s book that several films could be filled with alternative choices of events. For much of its duration, Michael Noer’s film is a tight two-hander, focusing on the bond between the two convicts.

Arguments remain as to whether this survival story needed a retelling, but there is a case to be made for Noer’s take being less bloated and more true to Charrière’s book with a fresh focus on Papillon the man, rather than the myth.

– Eddie Harrison, The List

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