Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek nail their characters in Papillon, a biographical drama about Henri Charriere (played by Charlie) who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned in 1933. The movie is based on his own memoir published in 1969 in Paris.
Don’t get me wrong, the actors (all of them, not just Charlier and Rami) were great. But this version of the movie falls a tiny bit behind the 1973 one.
Although Papillon drags in places, the intense action and gruesome violence provide enough oomph to jolt you back into the moment. You can take it as a study in human resilience, as an oblique love story, or as an indictment of the French penal system, this movie is will not be everyone’s “cup of tea”.
A bit of searching online revels what happened to Henry Charriere later in life:
After Charrière had served a year’s probationary freedom, he was given his total liberty in 1945.
In 1970, the French Justice System issued a pardon to Charrière for his 1931 murder convictionSource: Wikipedia
Should you watch it?
Even with the shortcomings of this version compared to the 1973 one, Papillon is straightforward, sturdy and handsomely designed. It is just too engaging to get entirely wrong, especially with a team like this who clearly cares about capturing things both correctly and in a way that penetrates the soul.