“The Escape Artist”–Thrilling Escapism


Escape Artist 2In this two-part mini-series aired on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery Theater over the past two weeks, Will Burton (David Tennant of “Broadchurch”, “Dr. Who”, and “Harry Potter” fame) is  London’s top-ranked criminal defense barrister.   Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo, 2014 Tony-award winner for “A Raisin in the Sun”), is equally brilliant but number two in trial victories.  Both Will Burton and Maggie Gardner are at the top of their game,  two intellects who are perfectly matched and relentlessly ambitious.


Burton believes “everyone deserves a defense,”  even for the despicable murderous psychopath, Liam Foyle (fearsomely played by Toby Kebbell). After Foyle’s acquittal,  Burton soon regrets his victory.  Winning at all costs becomes tragedy.

Foyle too, is more than the cliché image of ignominious evil.  He is a creepy bird lover who is handsome and deceptively charming to the vulnerable and lonely.  The triple cat-and-mouse games (between the two lawyers, between Burton and Foyle, and between Gardner and Foyle) are riveting and suspenseful but some of the sequence of events revealed at the end are not carefully connected and leave unanswered questions.  Nonetheless, “The Escape Artist”  succeeds, despite the occasional lapses in logic, to mesmerize and terrorize.

“The Escape Artist” is a thriller in which the viewer is drawn to the story and wishes to escape it simultaneously!  Brilliant performances and enough twists and turns to hold this viewer’s attention!

[NOT available online at the PBS website but only on Netflix.]

Comments (5)

  • The first episode appeared on PBS on a Sunday and we caught it in the middle of the episode. We passed on watching it that night because it was clearly apparent that we needed to see it from the beginning to really be engaged. How true it turned out, because we caught the first episode on another PBS station the next Saturday and were hooked. We were able to catch the ending episode on the next day, Sunday, for a very satisfactory conclusion.
    Foyle, as John pointed out, was so creepy and so clever (in a totally twisted way), one wanted the tables to turn on him, but how could that happen with the best legal minds defending him? With honorable intentions and the best defense minds to protect Foyle, how and why would we want this person out among us? Everyone deserves the best defense available, but where is the line?
    It was a thrilling production with great acting, writing and very thought provoking. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes intense drama with legal, moral and thought provoking questions.

  • It was very entertaining. Foyle was very good as the creep and his death at the end was sufficiently painful and a real treat to watch! Movie also raised some interesting philosophical questions.

    • No, Tracey, it is not available on Netflix streaming but only in DVD through snail mail. The PBS website only shows a 30-minute preview of each of the two episodes!

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