Brandon Slagle’s “Breakout” (2023) is an action/crime thriller that narrates the story of an ex-Black Ops soldier who gets entangled in the hostile takeover of a prison by a known criminal while paying a visit to his son, who is incarcerated in the same prison. Owing to a limited production budget, the film does compromise on some vital elements of storytelling, like dialogue, script, and choreography, but it somehow delivers on the essence of any good action or crime flick, providing some good old-fashioned prison fight scenes and gunfire, with the occasional high-speed car chase sequences. Released in the US on April 11, the film stars Louis Mandylor, Brian Krause, Kristos Andrews, Victor DiMattia, Noel Gugliemi, Mike Ferguson, and Isaac C. Singleton Jr. and also marks the last film by veteran actor Tom Sizemore, who tragically passed away before the film’s official release.
The story begins in Los Angeles with a car chase that ends with Vincent Barros, a young getaway driver, killing an undercover LAPD officer, Ramon Chavez. He ends up in Valverde State Penitentiary in California after being incarcerated for robbery and faces a rough time with prison violence. His father, Alex, who is a retired Black Ops operative, gets a call from a friend informing him about his son’s situation, and he decides to pay Vincent a visit in prison. During their brief meeting, a lot about their family history is revealed, as Alex apologizes for not being around enough during Vincent’s childhood, and Vincent holds him responsible for his mother’s death, as he was away on an operation when she had fallen ill. But as Alex is about to leave, an explosion shakes up the entire prison, and a known criminal and ex-LAPD bomb specialist, Maximilian Chandler, takes over the prison, freeing all the prisoners and holding the visitors hostage. He kills the warden of the prison and all the other panel members in his parole hearing and orchestrates for his external allies to enter the building with guns and ammunition. He leaves the freed prisoners with a choice to either join him in his quest or escape according to their convenience, and a few of them, including Vincent, join forces with him to take over the prison. He makes his demands via a live broadcast and states that the six remaining prisoners of the Trier Crime Family must be released and offered safe passage to a country with no extradition laws, and if his demands are not met within six hours, he would destroy the rest of the prison and kill all the hostages inside.
While still inside the prison premises, Alex discovers that all the supposed guards have the same name (Smith) printed on their name tags and suspects that they might be a part of the takeover. Putting his military training to use, he takes down one of them when he tries to shoot him and takes hold of his walkie-talkie to stay vigilant about the movement of the hostage takers. At this time, all that matters to him is to rescue his son from the storm of violence about to hit the prison. The police, led by Officer Coleman (Tom Sizemore), take charge of the hostage situation, trying to maintain communication with Chandler when Coleman is contacted by Alex, telling him about the intruders dressed as prison guards and the location of the hostages. Alex takes matters into his own hands inside the prison, taking down several armed assailants all by himself, making for some savage “Die Hard-style action sequences. Meanwhile, Vincent spots him in the corner of a corridor and realizes what he is up to. He speaks aloud to his fellow inmates, signaling Alex that he is there, and escapes into a nearby room while Alex kills the rest of the group. This, however, comes to Chandler’s attention, and he threatens Coleman, telling him that he will start killing hostages if any more of his men are killed. Coleman gets in contact with Alex, but he reassures him that Chandler was not, in fact, killing hostages, as he had not yet seen anyone who had been taken hostage by his men.
As soon as he gets off the phone, Alex finds a secluded room filled with dead bodies, and he discerns that Chandler is not killing hostages as his men have already murdered every civilian present at the prison, and he informs Coleman of the fact. After taking down another one of Chandler’s trained assailants, Alex comes face to face with Vincent, who surprises him by admitting that he believed in what Chandler was doing and that Chandler was the only one who properly understood the cruelty of the world that they lived in. Alex keeps trying to convince his son that the side he had chosen was the wrong one, but Vincent is adamant and states that he now has a cause to fight for. As their argument escalates, Vincent shoots Alex in the leg and suggests that he leave the prison before it is too late, leaving him to tend to his wound alone. He calls Officer Coleman to tell him that Chandler had convinced Vincent to join his cause and that he would need assurance that the police would not kill him on sight, but Coleman states that his superiors would not take anything under consideration as they had already killed all the hostages, and ultimately, it all falls on Alex to somehow rescue his son and get the situation under control before the SWAT arrived to cleanse the premises.
As he begins pushing forward, fighting and killing more of Chandler’s men, the helicopter for Chandler’s apparent extraction arrives, which motivates him to leave his men behind and escape, but he asks Vincent to join him. It turns out to be a ruse to disarm and confront him, as Chandler has figured out that Alex was there to rescue him. As Vincent confesses that he doesn’t like his father, Chandler asks him to shoot him as soon as he makes his way to the roof, giving him his gun. Although Vincent contemplates shooting Chandler with his own gun, he fails to do so, and Alex arrives on the scene, trying to free his son from his false allegiance, but Chandler shoots him, finally convincing the confused Vincent that the man he had sworn allegiance to was, in fact, a monster. He helps his father shoot Chandler, but he still makes it to the helicopter, which, as it turns out, was a ploy devised by the police to apprehend the criminal. The film ends with Vincent helping Alex walk out of prison as they finally make amends for lost time.