More_Badass’s review published on Letterboxd:
Blame is for God and small children.
These 2.5 hours flew by; never long till another betrayal, tribulation, brutal jungle obstacle, or new stage of prison-break adventure was unfolding. Papillon was a grueling tour-de-force from Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman: not a prison break story as much as a tale of prison endurance and human tenacity. Hellishly raw, procedural, and stark like only ‘70s cinema could achieve - I mean, holy shit this movie has two Hollywood stars wrestling a crocodile in knee-deep mud - as director Franklin Schaffner crafts an epic journey of trials and unshakable friendship while the miserable jungle-rot humidity permeates the screen.
I checked out the trailer for the remake and it just cemented how grimy, gritty, and desperate this film was. Some scenes felt like they just dumped the actors in some tropical ruins then started rolling the camera. McQueen’s torturously draining incarceration in isolation had me enrapt; the mental and physical strain is unforgettably visceral, so much characterization from his eyes and body language. Hoffman is compelling, but his co-lead’s eponymous performance makes the film.