‘Papillon’ Is a Sincere Character Study Disguised as a Gritty Escape Film

I can’t quite tell you why I was so excited for Papillon when I first saw the trailer for it a few months ago. I only found out after I had begun to anticipate it that it was actually a remake of a 1973 film by the same name, which in turn was based off a book of the same name, which was, in fact, a memoir from Henri Charrière (now played by Charlie Hunnam) whose nickname was, you guessed it – Papillon. I felt a bit silly for not knowing any of this beforehand, considering the original film starred Steve McQueen in the titular role, and Dustin Hoffman in the supporting role of Louie Dega (replaced in the new film by Rami Malek). Still, I enjoyed the fact that the only reason I had originally become excited for the film was because it seemed like a classically fun prison escape film, something that has been missing from the stack of summer blockbusters for the last few years. I became intrigued with the idea of going into this film completely blind, so as to not spend the entire runtime comparing and contrasting it to its predecessor. Instead, I could see it the way I had when I first saw the trailer: As a new and exciting prison escape genre action film starring two actors I’ve always enjoyed. If you go into this film having been a fan of the original, or having read the book for that matter, I’m not the person to tell you exactly how it holds up. But I’m of the belief that all films are created equal and deserve to be judged as such. With that being said, this film definitely manages to hold its own.

Rami Malek as Louie Dega, a rich con-man with a mark on his back.

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