I had picked up Escape to Victory at the HMV sale last winter because it sort of has a nostalgic value for me. I remember watching it with friends in school and it was just one of those semi-sports films that we watched quite a few times. I remember being fascinated by the reverse kick that Pele (The Brazilian Footballer) performs. Maybe the fact we were at a stage in our life when football was the game of choice made a different too.
This time around it was not that great. I found the movie, which is about a bunch of allied POW soldiers playing a football match with the German national team as they plan their escape, to be quite slow. Okay maybe the football tricks that made us go WOW! back then are not longer new. Maybe also because there have been quite a few sports training montages in movies that surpass the one in Escape to Victory. And maybe, just maybe, Michael Caine as a footballer and captain of the team just doesn’t feel right anymore.
Everything aside, it is a movie that has multiple personalities. It is a sports movie at heart. The actual match that takes over most of the second half is as close to a football game as you can get. There are moments of the game being slow and then moments of euphoria leading to an expected climax. Sylvester Stallone playing an American soldier stuck in-between the British tries to stand out by providing the humor and does an okay job of it. It is also a lighthearted look at the German oppression and one that at times even looks away from the actual turmoil. Mind you though, there are enough reminders, time and again, of what was actually happening outside the POW camps in the concentration camps (like when a few Polish and Eastern European players are called to play the match, they arrive completely malnourished). Lastly and going by the title most importantly it is also an escape movie.
I feel a bit confused because the film goes from one personality to another, not focusing on either one in totality. It might be a good thing as there is a little bit of variety for all sorts of audiences, but also by not having to focus on any one thing, it feels unfinished.
So, if you are in the mood for a lighthearted, moderately humorous, sports oriented movie, then go for Escape To Victory that gets a 3/5 star rating from me.