The adrenaline rush of doing something as daring as breaking out of prison has entertained directors as well as the audience since time immemorial. Even though most of us would never wish to break out of a prison ourselves the concept is so intriguing that people can’t stop enjoying such movies for the simple reason that we love to see heroes do the impossible and break out of high-security prison and enjoy the freedom

If you are a first-time prison break movie watcher, we have listed down some of the best prison break movies in all of cinematic history.

Greatest Prison Break Movies of All Time


1. The Shawshank Redemption

IMDb: 9.3/10

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video 

Along with being a masterpiece of a movie, it is one of the best prison break movies ever. It is the story of a wrongfully accused prisoner and his hope for getting out of the prison. Based on Stephen King’s book of the same name. The protagonist Andy Dufresne tries to deal with prison life with the help of a friend he makes in prison who also helps in his escape.

Why Should you watch it: This is one of the best movies ever produced in cinematic history. It covers a range of emotions and asks you all the right questions about life and morality while being an amazing source of entertainment.


2. Le Trou /The Hole

IMDb: 8.5/10

Where to watch: Binged

Released in 1960, it is a black and white French movie based on José Giovanni’s 1957 book The Break. It revolves around five prison inmates and their platting to get out of the prison.

Why Should you watch it: It is one the rare black and white prison break movies ever to be produced. The suspenseful and charismatic storyline will keep you hinged till the last scene.


3. A Man Escaped 

IMDb: 8.3/10

Where to watch:

Directed by Robert Bresson this movie is set in World War 2, the protagonist for this movie, Fontaine Leterrier, has been detained in the Nazi prison. He is a member of the French resistance force and plans an elaborate escape from the Nazi prison.

Why Should you watch it: At the time of its release, the movie won worldwide acclaim and was screened at the Cannes Film festival. It is considered to be one of Bresson’s best works.


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4. Toy Story 3 

IMDb: 8.3/10

Where to watch: Disney Hotstar

The third installment in this animated series turned out to be one of the top prison break movies in recent times. Now that Andy is leaving for college, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and the other toys are donated to a daycare. What follows are the hilarious attempts of the gang to get out of there.

Why Should you watch it: A movie which you can watch with your toddler cousin or child and both of you will enjoy it. Could there be a better choice for movie night?


5. The Great Escape

IMDb: 8.2/10

Where to watch: Amazon

Directed by John Sturges, this one of those famous prison break movies which will have your heartbeat going fast with a lot of action scenes and bike chases. Based on Paul Brickhill’s book of the same name the movie is set in Nazi Germany and follows the journey of the mass prison escape by the British prisoners.

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Why Should you watch it: The movie was the highest-grossing movie at the time of its release in 1963 and still has a huge fan following.


6. I am a fugitive from a chain gang 

IMDb: 8.2/10

Where to watch: Vudu

This is set in World War 1 and is inspired by Robert Elliott Burns’ experience of a chain gang in Georgia. A crime drama exposes the corrupt lifestyle of the officials during that time. 

Why Should you watch it: By showing us the dynamics of a chain gang, this movie brings something fresh to the prison break movies genre. 


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7. The Grand Budapest Hotel 

IMDb: 8.1/10

Where to watch: Disney Hotstar

This over-the-top and grand comedy-drama has an ensemble cast of seventeen famous actors and takes you on a grand tour of Europe and Hollywood’s cinematic tradition.

Why Should you watch it: If you want to watch one of the lighthearted and comic prison break movies then this is your best shot. It will leave you laughing and intrigued by the ingenious plot at the same time.


8. Cool Hand Luke 

IMDb: 8.1/10 

Where to watch: Amazon

This prison drama won George Kennedy an Oscar for supporting role while the film was nominated in three other categories. The movie opened to positive critic reviews as well as a box office hit. It follows Luke who rebels against the oppressive prison rules and tries to escape to visit his mother’s funeral.

Why Should you watch it: It has won various awards since its release and is considered a quintessential American movie. The film also has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


9. The Grand Illusion

IMDb: 8.1/10

Where to watch: Amazon

This is among the first and best prison break movies ever to be produced. Originally in French, this movie gives a strong message against wars. This one is set in the German prison camps during World War 1 and the escape effort of two French soldiers. 

Why Should you watch it: It is considered to be a great masterpiece of French cinema and was ranked 35 in Empire Magazine’s Top 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010.


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10. Prison Break: The Final Break

IMDb: 7.9/10

Part of the Prison Break franchise, in this movie Sara is arrested for murdering her mother in law a few days after her marriage. The whole team comes together to try and rescue a pregnant Sara. In the meanwhile Sara has nothing but her wits as she tries to protect herself in the prison.

Why you should watch it: This movie is everything you can ask for in prison break movies. It has drama, it has action and most importantly a intricate plan to break out of the prison.

11. Down by Law 

IMDb: 7.8 /10

Where to watch: Amazon

Another black and white movie raises the bar for the top prison break movies even higher. Three men are wrongfully arrested and have to bear insult and desecration by the society bond during their stay at the prison.

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Why Should you watch it: What makes this movie stand out is its different approach to this genre. Instead of focusing and explaining the logistics of the escape, it beautifully depicts the relationship between the inmates.


12. The Fugitive

IMDb: 7.6 /10

Where to watch: Youtube

This action film directed by Andrew Davis, tells the story of a husband wrongfully accused of attempting to murder his wife. When he and some of his prison mates try to escape he is the only one who makes it out. What follows is an adrenaline-fuelled manhunt which will keep wondering what will happen next.

Why Should you watch it: One of the winning qualities of this prison break movie is its cast. Harrison Ford will keep you gripped in the action of the story right from the beginning. The movie also received a number of nominations for the academy awards.


13. Midnight Express

IMDb: 7.6 /10

Where to watch: Amazon

This movie is not for the lighthearted and has scenes of rape, depression and brutal violence. It is a movie adaptation of the book by the same name. When an American college student is caught exporting drugs from Turkey he has to face extreme abuse at the prison. Almost at the verge of depression he knows that if he doesn’t get out soon it will be best to die.

Why Should you watch it: This is one of the most critically acclaimed prison break movies ever to be made. It won the academy award for Best Picture and Best Director in 1979.


14. Brute Force 

IMDb: 7.6 /10

Where to watch: Amazon

It portrays the truth of the harsh prison life and the commonly seen sadistic behavior of the guards.

Why Should you watch it: One of the classic prison break movies it has not only received positive critical review at the time of its release in 1947 but still has a huge fan following. 


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15. King of Devil’s Island 

IMDb: 7.5 /10

Where to watch: Amazon

One of the best prison break movies, it is based on the real-life events at Bastøy Prison in Norway. The movie shows the exploitative mistreatment of the prisoners by the prison staff and the eventual uprising of the prisoners against their crimes.

Why Should you watch it: Set in the harsh Norwegian winters, it is a fictional yet emotionally moving representation of this rebellion which will leave you questioning the prison facilities around the world.


16. The Next Three Days

IMDb: 7.3 /10

Where to watch: Netflix

This thriller drama directed by Paul Haggis, tells the story of a woman who is accused of murdering her boss. Not only does she go through the traumatic prison experience but her son also refuses to recognize her. Her husband hatches a plan to break her out of prison but the movie has something else in store for Lara.

Why Should you watch it: Unlike various other serious prison break movies this one is less focused on the traumatic prison experience and more on how and when will Lara get to escape this horror. It is more of a thriller and won’t leave you with a heavy heart. 

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17. Escape from New York

IMDb: 7.2 /10

Where to watch: Amazon

This is of its kind prison break movie. Breaking away from tradition, Escape from New York is a science fiction prison break movie set in a dystopian future. With an increase in the crime rate in America, Manhattan Island has been converted into a high-security prison. When the country is hijacked by terrorists an ex-soldier is tasked with rescuing the president from New York.

Why Should you watch it: This is the prison break movie version of all those movies where our hero tries to save the day by saving the President of the United States of America. And who does not like watching those kinds of movies?


18. Escape from Alcatraz

IMDb: 7.1 /10

Where to watch: Airtel Xtreme

Based on a real-life incident and a book on that incident, this movie showcases how prisoners managed to break out of this high-security prison. It obviously takes many creative liberties and dramatizes what really happened.

Why Should you watch it: This was one of the best prison break movies when it was released. It was well-received by critics for its close to a realistic portrayal of prison life. It will make for a good date night movie with your friends.


19. Logan Lucky 

IMDb: 7 /10

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Released in 2017, this movie is a breath of fresh air in the genre of prison break movies. It puts a satirical and comical twist on this serious topic and manages to convey the vagaries of prison life without triggering the audience too much. 

Why Should you watch it: A family drama where a person is broken out of prison just to commit another crime and then returned safely back behind the bars. This movie will have you thoroughly entertained and you won’t regret putting it on.


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20. Escape from Pretoria

IMDb: 6.8 /10

Where to watch: Prime

Released in 2020, it is being seen as the return of prison break movies to mainstream popular culture. It tells the story of two political prisoners and their plan to get out of this high-security prison.

Why Should you watch it: The movie has received very positive reviews from the audience who found themselves lost in the action of an enchanting and thrilling film.


21. Escape Plan

IMDb: 6.7 /10

Where to watch: Netflix

Ray Brislen, is a consultant for checking various high-security prisons by being locked in and trying to escape. On his latest and most risky project with the CIA, things go awry and Ray has no one but his wits from spending his whole life in prison. 

Why Should you watch it: Not wanting to spoil the big reveal of this movie, all I can say is that the storyline will keep you guessing the truth till the last moment.

Armed with this list of the best prison break movies, I bid you go forth and enjoy!


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