Written by Taylor Baker
There are certain actors that always perform well, but to be truly captivating need a director with a confident and clear voice. Charlie Hunnam is one of these actors, when thrust into the anguished and roughshod well built worlds of Guillermo del Toro, Kurt Sutter, and James Grey he soars. The lens and story of Papillon work harmoniously with him accentuating an actor full of charm, wit, and energy. Rami Malek’s ascension has been very similar to Hunnam’s. At first relegated to small support roles in incredible films like The Master, Short Term 12, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, until getting the lead in Sam Esmail’s lurid series Mr. Robot. This is one of those once in a lifetime casting situations, the right choices by the casting director in a film centered on the lives of two characters is made or broken by this choice and the casting director made a choice I greatly enjoyed.
The slapstick and Hollywood set found in the original are swapped out for a more authentic, uncomfortable, and claustrophobic interpretation. I won’t drone on about the differences between the original and this remake but the extended portion involving Papillon’s love interest made me much more invested in him as a character this time around.
This isn’t a film for everyone or even most people. If you are engaged by prison films, pursuits of freedom, and the bonds of brotherhood you might want to give it to try, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s not an easy watch at an over two hour runtime of watching men in prison trying to be free. There are very little flights of fancy to be found on Devil’s Island.
Papillon (2017) Trailer
Papillon (2017) is available to stream currently on Prime Video.