Papillon (2017) – Movie Review by Finn Kane

Papillon was directed by Michael Noer and stars Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek. It is a remake of the film from 1973 that starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, which itself was based off of a memoir of a man who was wrongly sent to the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island and escaped. I did not know that this film was a remake until I researched it after I watched it. I am a little disappointed because I feel like the original film might have been great, but, because this film is mediocre it probably will effect my viewing of the original. 

The reason that I wanted to watch this film was solely because of the cast. Charlie Hunnam has proved himself to be a great actor and he never really gets the attention that he deserves so I was completely on board to watch anything with him in it. It also had Rami Malek in it and I had just started watching Mr Robot when I saw this trailer and I was a new Rami fan, and I have continued to be one. 

I wasn’t disappointed in the film as a film, I am just a little disappointed because it was just mediocre, but I still liked it. I really liked the performances from Hunnam and Malek, they were really great together and I think that the casting was pitch perfect! They had great physicality for each of their respective characters and they had fantastic chemistry together. I really enjoyed watching them together, I just wish that the film actually deepened their characters more than surface level. 

Other than the acting the only other thing that stood out to me was the set design and the production value. Say anything else you want about this film but it is undeniably well produced and all of the sets feel very real and well done. The costumes were all really great and I never once felt taken out of the film because of the sets and costumes were both very real and genuine.

The makeup was good for the most part, although at the end of the film, when Hunnam is supposed to be old he looks hilariously bad and I couldn’t take him seriously. I was surprised by this because up to this point the makeup had been pretty great for the most part, but this did take me out of the film. 

I think for what this film is, it is pretty enjoyable, but it is nothing phenomenal. There are some minor issues with it, for instance no one really ever speaks french even though this is a french colony, but nothing too terribly noticeable. The tension near the end of the film was very effective and I was clenching my fists throughout most of the third act. I do think if you like prison escape or adventure films you should watch this, but only if you haven’t seen the original, because then it’s pointless. I will give Pappillon a 6 out of 10. 

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