Maze is the prison, in Northern Ireland, where, in 1983, Larry Marley (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) ends up after ten of his friends have died from hunger strike, including Bobby Sands.
Marley’s plan is to break out, and given his previous actions, he’s given one chance at being a cleaner, after volunteering for work duty. We can tell that he clearly wants to observe other parts of the prison so he can figure out how to escape, which will partially involve trying to befriend warden Gordon (Barry Ward), although it doesn’t help when that man’s family is threatened, and it’s nothing to do with Marley.
You can see where a TV series such as Prison Break has taken its cue (the first season, that is, not the OTT nonsense that became the seasons which followed). Even if you’re not sure about this film, but you enjoyed PB, then this is certainly worth a watch, even though Michael Schofield’s escapades were fictionalised, and Maze is based on reality. They share common situations in that, whether Schofield or Marley, they’re not 100% sure of where they are, so even if they did escape, they don’t know what’s on the other side of the wall.
While the Maze prison breakout did happen, on 25 September 1983, I won’t divulge how things turned out in case, like me, you weren’t sure if all the ins and outs.
There’s also a nice line – even though it feels a bit Hollywoodised – when Marley lets Gordon know that he knew about what happened to his family, and how – according to his sources – it won’t happen again, leading the warden to think he was in on it. However, with Gordon still going back to work at the prison, Marley tells him, “Maybe you’re a prisoner like the rest of us(?)”
The film is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1, but given how this is a DVD rather than a Blu-ray, the image is softer by comparison. I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV, connected to a PS4.
The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1, with occasional effects here and there for ambience. Plus, the film is mostly dialogue, so there’s not much of a score during the film, and certainly nothing memorable.
On the downside, there’s zero extras. However, I’m glad there’s subtitles (which are in English only) since very strong Northern Irish accents are used throughout, and I can’t always get a handle on those. The menu features clips from the film set to a short piece of the score, and there’s a bog standard 12 chapters.
In fact, about the lack of extras, there’s a load of trailers before the main menu – which really should be in the EXTRAS menu, NOT before the main menu comes up, Lionsgate!
I’ve reviewed the DVD, here, since as I understand it, there’s no Blu-ray release. Amazon appears to beg to differ, so I’ve included a link while one exists.
Running time: 89 minutes
Released: January 22nd 2018
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: Stephen Burke
Producers: Brendan J Byrne and Jane Doolan
Screenplay: Stephen Burke
Larry Marley: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
Gordon Close: Barry Ward
Oscar: Martin McCann
Kate Marley: Eileen Walsh
Joe: Aaron Monaghan
Jill: Niamh McGrady
Danny Marley: Ross McKinney
Young Widow: Elva Trill
Brendan ‘Bik’ MacFarlane: Tim Creed
Bobby: Cillian O’Sullivan
Gerry: Patrick Buchanan
Warder Williams: Andy Kellegher
George: David Coakley
Maguire: Will Irvine
Ken: Stefan Dunbar
Craig: James Browne
Janet: Ella Connolly
John Adams: Michael Power
Tom: Robert Fawsitt
Michael: Seán T Ó Meallaigh
O’ Brien: Aidan O’Hare
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.