Akilla’s Escape Review: Befuddling, Bloodsoaked Play With Time & Crime

Here is our review for Akilla’s Escape, starring Saul Williams, Thamela Mpumlwana, Donisha Prendergast, Vic Mensa, Bruce Ramsay, Shomari Downey, Ronnie Rowe Jr., Olunike Adeliyi, Theresa Tova and directed by Charles Officer

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Akilla’s Escape Review: Befuddling, Bloodsoaked Play With Time & Crime

WTF! Akilla’s Run could have been the drug-cartel drama of the year. It has all the makings of a great heist drama: a crime gone horribly wrong, leaving behind a brutally hacked dying man, lots of cash and blood wasted. In this case ‘heist’ surely makes waste. There is too much…ummm…shall we say…selfindulgent artistry in the 90-plus minutes plot, cut done to a lean mean size which leaves no room for humbug.

And yet this promising noire film backfires at a crucial plot point, rendering the narrative not just confusing but also self-defeating.

The real drama, if you must know,begins when the film’s hero Akilla temporarily adopts a 15-year old boy who has been left behind by his accomplices after the botched heist.The boy Sheppard is played with sharp emotional vigour by Thamela Mpumlwana. He is the real find of this confounding film.

I would have been happy just watching Akilla the killer (Saul Williams) and the young vulnerable Sheppard bonding over bullets and burgers. But no.Director Charles Officer’s film gets wildly ambitious. It goes into Akilla’s childhood filled with an abusive father and a brave but brutalized mother who predictably enough, Sheppard idolizes to death. Her death.

But here’s the suicidal twist. Turns out, the childhood Akilla is played by the same talented actor Thamela Mpumlwana who plays Sheppard. So now, instead of getting deeply involved in adult Akilla’s fight to save Sheppard (with some help from Sheppard’s resolute aunt played by Donisha Prendergas) we must now focus on constantly distinguishing between Shepherd and Akilla as they take us through two mindboggling levels of time and space.

I completely understand the need to give the same voice and personality to Akilla’s childhood and his reluctant protégé to show how life in the ghetto is unchanged. It must also be mentioned that Thamela Mpumlwana plays the two parts in exactly the same way: troubled, tormented, saddled with responsibilities way beyond the 15-year old’s emotional spectrum.

Nonetheless Thamela is the only actor who stays rigidly true to his character proving that when it comes to talent, age is no bar. Rapper-actor Saul Williams is in fine form conveying an anguished past and a dark future through his blank eyes that give away nothing.

This is a film that aspires to a greatness it could have achieved if only it had not scrounged on the casting by making the same actor play two roles. It is like trying to kill two birds with one stone and missing both.Nonetheless for those who enjoy crime thrillers there is plenty of atmospheric pressure here . Dark grimy passageways, bloodsoaked t-shirts and a drug kingpin code-named “The Greek’ who turns out to be a deliciously wise woman.  

Image Source: Instagram/akillasescape