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Brubaker Reviews

Page 1 of 9
Red L

Super Reviewer

May 14, 2012
Brubaker is a prison drama - a little like Shawshank Redemption, but in this one, it is Brubaker that is fighting corruption in prison. It is almost too idealistic, but it is always cool when corruption is stifled.
rayman0071
rayman0071

Super Reviewer

October 26, 2009
Classic Robert Redford from the early 80's. A gripping movie from the director of "Cool Hand Luke".
Lady D

Super Reviewer

June 9, 2007
Based on the real life story of Tom Murton, this sure is a worthy tale to tell, however I found the whole film pretty boring and I have to say Robert Redford did absolutely nothing for me acting wise.
Byron B

Super Reviewer

October 4, 2007
Good message. Sure, the end is somewhat sappy. Redford as Brubaker plays a good reformer. I've read another review that said this is very similar to Serpico, but in prison. I agree, both great movies about fighting corruption.
Jeffrey M

Super Reviewer

February 11, 2012
It's no Cool Hand Luke (Rosenberg's earlier film), but Brubaker is still a great prison drama. Depressing as it may be, it's a fact-based story, featuring an umcomprimising idealist played powerfully by Redford. I appreciated the film's willingness to not strain away from the harsh realities involved, and not opting for an overly simplistic and studio-friendly happy ending. Solid performances and direction all around. Of note for film buffs- you'll notice an early appearance by Morgan Freeman (Nicolas Cage also appears as an extra in his first film).

4/5 Stars
Mike T

Super Reviewer

June 5, 2007
A solid drama infused with gritty realism and interesting plot structure. Strong performances from everyone and a compelling, rewarding story are what make this film work so well. There's really nothing to complain about here. Highly recommended.
January 23, 2013
Could have been better, yet still a interesting movie about a guy who is unwilling to give in on corruption.
February 24, 2012
"Brubaker" is a slow-moving and brutal look at corruption in the prison system. It leaves nothing to the imagination and just didn't make for an enjoyable viewing experience. It is hard to believe that the corruption in this story is based on the events of a real prison but the realization that it is true did not help me to justify the graphic brutality. Unlike "Shawshank," the crimes of the inmates are of no consequence. Instead, this film focuses on the treatment of inmates regardless of crime. Henry Brubaker is an awesome character and Robert Redford acts the role with expertise, particularly through the emotions in his eyes during the final scene; however, great acting can only do so much when you keep falling asleep because it moves at a snail's pace. The real reason to watch this film is for an early appearance by Morgan Freeman. I was legitimately frightened by his unstable state of mind and, though it only lasted for 5 minutes, it was the most worthwhile part of this film. I also enjoyed M. Emmett Walsh's short appearance. The film has its moments of greatness but there are not enough of them to make it worth sitting through the torture of these prisoners.
December 27, 2007
It was thoroughly depressing. The ending was like...okay...did anything get accomplished really? I'm not sure, but it was entertaining watching the events unfold.
cocoapuffgurl80
March 8, 2009
This is a great prison movie. Redford really is one man going against the system in this movie. He doesn't get caught up in the politics or corruption and is just doing what is right. A must see.
MovieGuruDude72
August 7, 2007
Maybe THE greatest prison-genre movie ever made. Fantastic acting and drama. Redford gives a great performance and has backup characters from Morgan Freeman, Wilford Brimley and David Keith. A top notch film.
Preston B.
March 22, 2014
Redford delivers the performance of his career in this amazing prison drama based on the real life Arkansas Prison Scandal.
August 5, 2013
Great acting role by Redford even if the script was abit lax, and Morgan Freeman....young.
gillianren
June 10, 2013
Somewhere in That Prison Is a Very Young Nicolas Cage

I rather collect first film appearances. It's entertaining. I admit I missed Nicolas Cage in this; he's one of the prisoners, but I didn't see him. I did, however, see Morgan Freeman in his first credited film role, which is harder to miss. He was already forty-three, if you can believe it, and had been on TV for some nine years on [i]The Electric Company[/i]. It does not, I must say, exactly hurt my personal theory that he aged almost immediately and has been hovering about the same look ever since. I think I talked about this when I watched [i]The Pawnbroker[/i], too, but I quite like Morgan Freeman, so we're going over it again. His is a small but crucial role, that of the man who unknowingly leads to the big reveal. It could have been anyone in the part; this isn't a role that requires the patented Morgan Freeman Gravitas (TM). Still, I think he kind of prefers these roles now and again. They're more fun.

Henry Brubaker (Robert Redford) enters the Wakefield State Penitentiary as a prisoner. There aren't enough beds for the prisoners sent there. The only way to ensure that you'll get one is to pay a bribe to a trustee. There are more bed frames, but they are falling apart and don't have mattresses. There isn't enough food, and what food there is, is disgusting. Prisoners even have to pay to be treated by the doctor (Roy Poole). As Brubaker and the others are being brought in, a prisoner is put on their bus who was shot trying to escape. They never do find out what happened to him, but they never see him again. One day, Walter (Freeman) goes a bit crazy, and Brubaker reveals himself to be the warden, who has gone undercover to find out exactly what's going wrong at the prison. As warden, he wants to resolve the problems being had at the prison, but he quickly learns that people are not, in general, interested in improving conditions for prisoners.

This is based on true events. Including the discovery of bodies behind the prison and the fact that those higher up the chain of command weren't interested in improving conditions for the prisoners. Though the way Brubaker got to know the prison before making himself known is not part of the original story of Thomas O. Murton, the historical figure on whom Brubaker is based, it is speculated that it is instead based on a former warden of Sing Sing who had himself interred at a different New York State penitentiary to get a feel for conditions as a prisoner. Whether that's true or not, it at very least makes for a good story and gets the attention. It's also certainly true that the story of the prison is not a pleasant one. That field wasn't just where those who died of natural causes while prisoners were buried. The real-life prisoners eventually sued over conditions and got the prison closed because their treatment was unconstitutional.

The people in the area of the fictional Wakefield are not interested in having the conditions in the prison improved. Either they are getting something out of it or else they believe that the prisoners are getting exactly what they deserve. Now, Brubaker is very honest at the beginning; he believes that the vast majority of the prisoners under his command are guilty of the crimes they were convicted of, and he has no qualms about making them serve their sentences. He doesn't even have a problem with having the prisoners work, provided that they actually get the fruits of their own labours. Why should they eat canned chili while the beef they raise gets sold to local restaurants at discount prices? But of course, the owners of those local restaurants are quite happy with the deal they have. The local contractor put a shoddy roof on the bunkhouse, and when it collapsed, there was nothing anyone could do. The roof wasn't insured--though some nonexistent farm equipment was.

I'm considerably worried about the idea of all the positions of trust in the prison's being filled by prisoners. Don't get me wrong; I do believe that prisoners can be rehabilitated, and I do believe that there are plenty of positions in a prison that can be filled with prison labour. Heck, come to that, it wouldn't be bad to teach them some decent skills, which would help on the assumption that any of these people are ever getting out. But the head guard, "Dickie" Coombes (Yaphet Kotto), is a prisoner. Another person I recognized, Everett McGill in one of his first roles as Eddie Caldwell, also appears to be both a prisoner and a guard. The people on the towers are expressly stated to be prisoners, and the people guarding the work teams as they go out into the fields are guards. This does not strike me as a sensible way to run a prison, and I can't understand why anyone would allow it. Yes, various authority figures speak disdainfully of the idea of spending more money on prisons, but that's still just weird.
horse c.
August 15, 2012
Not your average prison movie....
August 27, 2012
Very clever intro to Redford's character!
FilmGrinder S.
July 11, 2010
96%

"You gotta stop digging...because you have been salaryed to run one of the best conceved prisons in the country, sir. Because although Wakefeild is admittedly an imperfect institution, much like America herself, she is none the lessa grand experiment. Goverment of the man, for the man, by the man.-Senator Charles Hite (John McMartin)
Michael A.
April 25, 2012
Typical 80's drama felt more like it was made for tv.
Jeffrey M

Super Reviewer

February 11, 2012
It's no Cool Hand Luke (Rosenberg's earlier film), but Brubaker is still a great prison drama. Depressing as it may be, it's a fact-based story, featuring an umcomprimising idealist played powerfully by Redford. I appreciated the film's willingness to not strain away from the harsh realities involved, and not opting for an overly simplistic and studio-friendly happy ending. Solid performances and direction all around. Of note for film buffs- you'll notice an early appearance by Morgan Freeman (Nicolas Cage also appears as an extra in his first film).

4/5 Stars
Spinstar Holomeme
May 18, 2011
70%. Meaty message of the mass murderous inhumane punitive intolerance opportunistic exploitative corruption of the whole lot of reactionary demogoguers working handinhand with phony leveragers of superficial liberal selection of reforms toward the same genocidal grip of status quo tyranny.
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