Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare (2012)

Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare (2012)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Escape Fire tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time: what can be done to save our broken medical system? Award-winning filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke follow dramatic human stories as well as leaders fighting to transform healthcare at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government, and even the US military. The film examines the powerful forces trying to maintain the status quo in an industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. After decades of resistance, a movement to bring innovative high-touch, low-cost methods of prevention and healing into our high-tech, costly system is finally gaining ground. Escape Fire is about finding a way out. It's about saving the health of a nation. -- (C) Official Site
PG-13 (for some thematic material)
Documentary , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (11)

This swiftly paced documentary assembles expert talking heads and real-world patients and practitioners to discuss defusing the ticking time bomb of American health care costs.

Full Review… | November 8, 2012
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

There's no escaping the fact that the sheer profusion of similarly-themed efforts in recent years reduces their individual impact.

Full Review… | October 5, 2012
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke's sobering, often infuriating documentary about medical care in 21st-century America.

Full Review… | October 4, 2012
Washington Post
Top Critic

The film is surprisingly optimistic, arguing that there are genuine, practical answers to many of the problems afflicting the system, and some are already being adopted.

Full Review… | October 4, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Arranged in a handful of clear, concise chapters, "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare" turns an unwieldy, Medusa-headed topic into a convincingly humane argument for change.

October 4, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

Cogent, convincing, determinedly non-ideological, "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare" tells us that everything we think we know about that incendiary topic might be wrong. And it offers us a way out of the morass.

Full Review… | October 4, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare

Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare has the power to enlighten and frighten. It's a compelling call to action for a nation that's wasting its potential. It's arguments are based on seemingly irrefutable facts and figures, yet it's not quite a home run-more like a ground rule double. Its thesis is like the plot of Prometheus. You see where it wants to go, but the path there is strewn with bumps and holes. Yes, our health care system is problematic-in fact, "problematic" is a massive understatement. And the film hammers that home with precision. However, it flubs the landing just a little by not offering a solution worthy of the problem. Eating right, exercising, stress relief-all good things. But can these practices change government policy on corn subsidization? Or a fast food company's pricing model? Probably not-at least not in any reasonable amount of time. But Escape Fire is well-intentioned and features brilliant men and women speaking truth to power. Taken in context, it's rather convincing. Aren't convinced bacon and eggs for breakfast every day is dangerous? Escape Fire has a few people you ought to meet. Think meditation and acupuncture are hippy-dippy nonsense? Think again. Directors Susan Frömke and Matthew Heineman, along with the experts they call upon, back up their claims with solid facts, but the claims feel flimsy. I have a thousand questions I'd like to ask some of these individuals, and as my surrogate, Frömke, Heineman, and their filmmaking team let me down. The film's other problem is its title. "Escape Fire" refers to the notion that the solution to an overwhelming problem might be right in front of your face. A crew of firefighters are trapped on the side of a mountain when its leader strikes a match and starts burning the ground around him. The men and women around him panic, and most of them ultimately parish, but the captain knew the flames would sail past him in search of more oxygen. It's a clever metaphor, but the way the film references it is overdone and silly. The healthcare problem, at least as its described in Escape Fire, has many facets, and none is more successfully tackled in this documentary than military healthcare-particularly as it relates to a soldier's dependency on prescription drugs. We follow a sergeant in the Army who's being evacuated after taking a bullet in the Korengal Valley (made famous in the superb 2010 documentary Restrepo). He's on so many drugs for his legs, as well as PTSD (most of the men he fought with perished). At one point, we see him on the evac helicopter actually fall over he's so high on morphine. It's disturbing and sad, especially as we get to know him more. Unlike many of his fellow soldiers, he's able to motivate himself to kick the habit, and what get him to do so is acupuncture-a technique this self-described hick is incredibly skeptical of at first. The results win him over; When he has these little pins in his ear, he's damn near invincible. It's a moving comeback from a damaged hero, and it's easily this film's strongest thread. Escape Fire is full of other honest and admirable individuals with compelling personal stories-like a woman who's had dozens of stints put in before the age of 40 and a doctor who's forced to float from practice to practice because she likes to educate and spend time with her patients. This personal touch, as well as the impressive scope of the picture, make Escape Fire recommendable. It's not, however, among the year's best documentaries; It's merely good. It's searching for an answer that might not be there, and the answers it ultimately poses are nothing but paper tigers.

John Gilpatrick
John Gilpatrick

Its a bit heavy handed in its attempt to make you care about the issue via real life examples rather than simply giving you all the facts up front, but it never takes away from what its trying to get across...the disease management, medical industrial complex of a monster that is the "health care system" of this country is not only broken, but close to being in complete shambles and the only way for it to change is for EVERYONE to be completely informed about what is actually would have been better suited to delve into why the system is so broken rather than just pounding away at the fact that it is in such a state...there is so much of this pseudo'factual propaganda contrived by certain political and economic groups and networks for nothing more than essentially brainwashing the American people in the hopes of maintaining of power and is a truly sickening notion...and the truth of the matter is that change can not be made until the root of the issue has been eradicated...burning the current 'infrastructure' and rebuilding a true health care and management system from its ashes may seem like an overly drastic step to take (and perhaps it really is too much to hope for), but until people really and truly understand that the only way major changes to come into affect is to take extreme actions nothing can or will happen Overall, I can only hope that what someone takes away from this film (or maybe even this short review/rant, depending on how you interpret) is that things need to change and the only way for that to happen to is spread better understanding on the issue and take action, no matter how large or small

Tom Waller
Tom Waller

One of the least biased assessments of our healthcare system, as well as a few good suggestions. I'm glad we're finally talking about this.

Bohdan Maksymyuk
Bohdan Maksymyuk

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