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  Breakout Hostage Crisis
Year: 1984
Director: Frank Godwin
Stars: David Jackson, Ian Bartholomew, John Bowler, Simon Nash, John Hasler, Iain Rattray, Brian Binns, Stephen Jacobs, Philip Barnes, Jack Lester, Barry Norman, Ridgewell Hawkes, Elizabeth Rider, John Benfield, Irene Sutcliffe, John Line
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: David (Simon Nash) and Stephen (John Hasler) are two young birdwatchers who have built a hide to conceal themselves in while they observe the wildlife in a forest near their homes. But as they take notes on a woodpecker, they notice a pair of cars driving up along the secluded track and wonder what is going on, especially so when the drivers of the second car abandon the first and cover it with netting. The boys investigate and find the vehicle empty aside from a suitcase containing old clothes and a pair of passports and other papers, but as David takes notes, two men approach, and they run off to their hide again. This pair are Donny (David Jackson) and Keith (Ian Bartholomew), and they are escaped criminals...

By now the Children's Film Foundation was known as the Children's Film and Television Foundation, a mark of how far the small screen had encroached onto their big screen patch. For a start, by now their product was being shown on television regularly - Children's BBC broadcast them on Friday afternoons, both as a cost-cutting measure and to promote the foundation's efforts - and the Saturday morning pictures that these hour-long films had been a staple of were all but dying out, thanks to, you guessed it, television. Therefore Breakout was intended as a happy medium between the two, one that could be shown in the cinemas and shortly after broadcast on television, thus proving the foundation were still relevant in the eighties. Whether that was true or not was sadly a moot point as the decade drew on.

But that's not to do down this item, for it was a very decent juvenile thriller with an emphasis on so-called Stockholm Syndrome, the idea that hostages can grow close to their captors and sympathise with their aims the longer they stay with them, no matter they have been forced into the situation. At the heart of this was a remarkable performance by Jackson, who would be best known as Olag Gan from science fiction show Blake's 7, and here once again playing a hulking bruiser, though with shades to the character that oddly made him almost as childlike as the two boys. Donny, nicknamed The Bull, was prone to fits of growling rage that Jackson truly sold, and by the end the viewer is in the curious position that the boys were, willing him to get away as the police close in. Mostly filmed in rural locations, which kept the costs down apart from anything else, this would have pointed to a fruitful path to take for the foundation, had it lasted further. If you're wondering where you've seen Hasler before, maybe you recall him as T-Shirt from ITV's T-Bag educational fantasy serials; he is now a prolific voiceover artist, the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine for many years.

[This is available with eight other CFF films on the BFI's Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3, all on DVDs packed with extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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