Parents' Guide to

Escape from Pretoria

By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Tense political prison thriller has some violence, language.

Movie PG-13 2020 104 minutes
Escape from Pretoria Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

One more movie about a prison break

First of all, this movie based on a real story and this is first reason why you should watch this video. The movie all time keep you in worries for the main character. Escape from Pretoria is a movie about the prison for convicts for political reasons located in Pretoria (this is a city in South Africa) in the eighties. This prison break was not really possible if it was in our time, because now a prison without CCTV cameras is not a prison. I recommend this movie for all people who like movies on the prison theme, but only for watching on one time.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (3):

Based on true events adapted from Jenkin's book Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria, the movie is directed with a real sense of urgency and tension that has you on the edge of your seat. Jenkin himself was present on set during much of the filming, which is sure to have helped give the movie an authentic feel. The story would seem preposterous had it not happened in real life, yet the gritty, intense performances -- particularly from Radcliffe in another interesting role that distances him further from his Harry Potter roots -- make every second feel real. Quiet and still, scenes of Jenkin, Lee, and Fontaine testing the keys in the stolen moments between warden patrols is a lesson in building tension, holding the audience's attention (and breath) as sweat literally drips down the actors' necks.

The plan is ingenious yet so unlikely. Every intricate pencil drawing, piece of chewing gum stuck precariously on the end of a broomstick, and fragile wooden key entering a steel lock feels like it deserves a prize for engineering -- each tiny victory filmed with a real-time urgency that leaves the heart thumping. The level of violence offers a glimpse into the brutality of the apartheid regime without glamorizing or stylizing it, while the costumes and settings -- as well as the surprisingly natural South African accents from British, American, and Australian actors -- expertly realize the time and place. The film manages to avoid a story of white saviors by acknowledging their privilege amid a racist regime, resulting in a tense and confidently made film that falls somewhere between drama, thriller, and war movie -- yet deserves a place among the best of all three.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate