Review: Director Brandon Slagle’s BREAKOUT is 86 Minutes of Lean, Mean Indie Action Cinema!

What to do when you’re an aging spec ops soldier still looking for a war to fight and you find out your son is imprisoned for shooting an undercover cop. Such is the dilemma for the newest indie action offering Breakout which hails from director Brandon Slagle who has quickly become my go to guy for adrenaline on streaming sites. Coincidentally, Slagle started with horror films as a director but has since moved into the adrenaline game and with fine results I might add.

Slagle helmed last year’s Battle for Saipan which made it onto my best of 2022 list with its eclectic mix of war action and devastating hand to hand combat. That film’s star, the criminally underrated Louis Mandylor, also stars in the new actioner Breakout which sees its release on Tuesday, April 11th. Mandylor stars as the aforementioned spec ops agent Alex Baros who must battle a rogue gallery of mercs when a disgruntled former LAPD bomb expert named Max Chandler, played wonderfully and intimidatingly by Brian Krause, takes over the Val Verde prison where Mandylor’s son is being held. What transpires is Baros taking names and no prisoners in true John McClane fashion leading up to the inevitable confrontation between himself and Chandler.

Now many will pass this film off as another in the long line of Die Hard clones, which is not a bad thing in my eyes, but there’s more here than meets the eye as along with the throwback style violence, we also get some heavy dysfunctional family drama between Baros and his son. After all, Slagle and crew know we have to care about these characters at the end of the day to be vested in them and you have to have action scenes that mean something and are filtered with consequences.

Louis Mandylor, who just might be one of my top 5 indie action stars these days, delivers his signature brand of gravitas especially with the scenes with Kristos and kicks it into high gear with the film’s many action altercations. Mandylor is always believable in these types of roles and just like in The Debt Collector franchise with his character of Sue, Mandylor creates another sympathetic warrior that I’d love to see more of.

Mandylor’s Baros isn’t indestructible by any means and he takes his fair share of beatings including taking a bullet from his own son. Awwww, smell the dysfunctional drama. Baros gives as good as he gets though and his performance did remind me of Die Hard’s iconic hero. He’s got skills but he isn’t a machine. He bleeds and tires just like the rest of us.

Krause is solid as our heavy here and there’s more to his Max Chandler as this heavy has massive layers. Is he a sociopath? Absolutely, but you can almost relate to why he has done the nasty things that he’s done. Is killing innocent people the way to get your message across? Probably not but there is a piece of sympathy that goes with him too. Krause clearly has fun with the role and it shows every time he’s on camera.

Kristos Andrews, who I must admit that I was unaware of sold me as well. Andrews has that rough boy band thing going for him as he’s easy on the eyes for the ladies but he’s believable in the exciting moments too. Andrews works off Mandylor wonderfully and he gets his moments to shine in the action department to boot. He’s definitely one to look out for in future testosterone fueled action pics like this.

Breakout is a bittersweet affair as this is one of the last films of Hollywood veteran actor Tom Sizemore who sadly passed away not too long ago. Sizemore was always solid in anything he did and here we get to see a little of that old Sizemore magic as he plays LAPD detective Chaz Coleman. Sizemore’s cop is refreshing in the sense that he’s on Baros’ team from the get go, knows what kind of professional he is and knows he can mop this mess up. After all, why send more men in when one is just enough.

Sizemore had a troublesome offscreen life but I’m not here for that. This man made any movie better…period. Here in a supporting role, he proves, even near the end of his life that no role was too small. Every time he’s on screen, he owns it and he was one to never phone in an acting gig. He will be missed.

Now there is the usual noticeable CGI muzzle flashes and explosions which are par for the course. Unfortunately, if this bothers you then you will find something to nitpick here but I was actually impressed with the bobbing sequence as it looked at authentic as it could. These indie films always are suspect to these types of special effects but it’s never been a deal breaker for me.

Now of course Breakout is an action film and here, like I stated before, Slagle is now officially top five indie action directors per Action-Flix. Watching a movie helmed by Slagle will tell you that he’s a lover of old school action movies. The flawed but still valiant hero and above all violent action! At a brisk running time of just over 86 minutes, it never overstays its welcome and there isn’t more than a few minutes that go by before Slagle gives you what you want.

From Mandylor lying in wait, to his full frontal assaults, there is equal parts fisticuffs and firepower to be had. Slagle is a tactician when it comes to making action on a budget because he has the scope and the eye to create something out of nothing. I was thoroughly impressed with Mandylor’s CQB skills as they are downright lethal and to the point and as a long practitioner and martial artist in the style of American Kenpo, a lot of the moves were reminiscent to what I have done in the day so needless to say, I was grinning during the brutal and painful altercations.

Overall, Breakout is 86 minutes of lean, mean indie action with Director Brandon Slagle and star Louis Mandylor rising to the occasion. There are numerous sequences of violence and a little dash of human drama to entertain. It hits the ground running and never lets up until the final credits rolls.

Breakout is a clear example that you don’t need big budgets to deliver high-octane exhilaration. Just men and women who are passionate about what they do and are crazy talented. The plot might be tried and true and done countless times in the past but Slagle pays homage to these classics and always treats the material with respect. Mandylor needs more machismo roles like this as the underrated actor never disappoints and elevates anything he is in.

This is quite simply, a good time at the movies reminiscent of when you went to Blockbuster to rent these exact types of films. Check it out!

VERDICT: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars


On Digital Platforms and DVD April 11, 2023 from Uncork’d Entertainment


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