Akilla’s Escape is a gritty crime drama set in Canada that tells two stories simultaneously. Saul Williams (Slam, K-Pax) plays the lead, Akilla, and we are introduced to him as a young boy at the beginning of the movie and then meet him as a man after this brief introduction. The story goes back and forth between the present day and the past to tell the story of how Akilla became the man he is today, while also following his current dilemma.
In the present day, Akilla is a marijuana supplier who we learn is about to get out of the game. His associates are confused and disappointed, considering that marijuana has recently been legalized and he can go legit. However, Akilla’s mind is made up. He’s going to do this one last run and then tell everyone that he’s retiring.
Of course, that doesn’t go as planned and when he arrives to do his last drop, the place is being held up by young thugs. Akilla is clearly experienced with high-pressure situations and he can see that the one who has a gun on him is a nervous child. When he gets his opportunity, he knocks the kid out and the other flees the scene without him. Now Akilla has this young boy hostage and the flashbacks to him as a teenager being introduced to the criminal underworld start to give us context as to why he shows mercy to his young captive.
The juxtaposition of Akilla as a young boy being taught the ropes by his father and Akilla as a man trying to save a young man from getting sucked into this life is perfectly done. You get invested in both stories equally.
On one hand, we learn at the start of the movie that Akilla’s father was killed but we spend the rest of the movie seeing what leads up to his father’s death and how it happened. On the other, we meet this kid who was holding a gun to Akilla and learn about his life and family and see Akilla try to save him from himself.
Akilla’s Escape is a grounded crime drama that fans of the genre will enjoy
Saul Williams has a great, understated performance that makes him feel like a man who has seen it all and simply wants to live a simple life. At the same time, you feel his compassion for the young boy and his aunt. He doesn’t give you a lot of outward displays of emotion but you can feel it in his eyes and the way he carries himself.
His costar, Thamela Mpumlwana (Star Trek: Discovery) also gives a strong performance and that is despite how little the character says. It takes a lot of talent to act with your facial expressions and both carry the weight of their characters through their faces.
There was also an appearance I wasn’t expecting from rapper Vic Mensa (The Chi) in his first big-screen acting role. His character does have some generic gangster-type character lines that made me laugh but they didn’t take away from the movie.
Akilla’s Escape has a dramatic conclusion that is amazing in the flashback but left me wanting a little more on the present-day side. Mostly because I don’t like leaving movies with unanswered questions but others will like that it leaves a little room for you to wonder what happened after. Having a movie conclude in a way that isn’t neatly wrapped up makes the viewer live with it a bit more than a rosy ending would and I can respect that.
Akilla’s Escape has great storytelling, great acting, a strong story, and great cinematography. I enjoy a grounded crime thriller and this movie definitely falls into that camp. It was a fun ride and one I’m glad I went on.
If you’re a fan of gritty crime dramas Akilla’s Escape is a must-watch for 2021.