Top 10 British Prison & Borstal Films

Ahead of the 2022 release of Ross McCall's brilliant prison movie A VIOLENT MAN, featuring a career defining performance from Craig Fairbrass, we thought we'd list some of the other British prison movies that have made their mark over the years.

Vertigo Releasing will release A VIOLENT MAN in UK Cinemas, 4th February 2022.

Top 10 British Prison & Borstal Movies

Here's our Top 10 British prison and borstal movies, and we've ranked them according to their IMDB Rating. So take a look at let us know what you think, or what prison movies we've missed that you think should rank in the Top 10?

10) MEAN MACHINE (2001)

Directed by Barry Skolnick

IMDB Rating 6.5

Outline: Former football hero Danny Meehan is arrested for drunk driving and assault. He is sentenced to prison, where he coaches the prison football team, eventually playing against a team of prison guards. Danny relearns the joy of victory and regains his sense of himself as a man.

Stars Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham and David Hemmings.

Watch MEAN MACHINE on Amazon

9) THE ESCAPIST (2008)

Directed by Rupert Wyatt

IMDB Rating 6.7

Outline: In this prison break movie Frank Perry is 14 years into a life sentence without parole. When his estranged daughter falls ill, he is determined to make peace with her before it's too late. He develops an ingenious escape plan, and recruits a dysfunctional band of convicts - misfits with the unique skills required for their daring plan, united by a desire to escape.

Stars Brian Cox, Damian Lewis & Dominic Cooper.

Watch THE ESCAPIST on Amazon

8) THE CRIMINAL (1960)

Directed by Joseph Losey

IMDB Rating 6.9

Outline: Johnny Bannion pulls a racetrack robbery after he's released from prison and gets caught but he is able to hide the loot in a farmer's field without telling anyone where the money is hidden.

Stars Stanley Baker, Sam Wanamaker & GrĂ©goire Aslan.

Watch THE CRIMINAL on Amazon

7) MCVICAR (1980)

Directed by Tom Clegg

IMDB Ranking 6.9

Outline: Roger Daltrey stars as John McVicar in this true story of life behind bars. Charged and found guilty of committing armed robbery, McVicar is sentenced to eight years in a maximum security prison, but he refuses to take his punishment lying down and begins planning a daring escape. 

Stars Roger Daltrey, Adam Faith, Cheryl Campbell, Billy Murray & Georgina Hale.

Available on DVD from Amazon

6) BRONSON (2008)

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

IMDB Rating 7.1

Outline: In 1974, a hot-headed 19 year old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement.

Stars Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams & Luing Andrews.

Watch BRONSON free with Amazon Prime


Directed by John Mackenzie

IMDB Rating 7.1

Outline: The true story of the Scottish criminal Jimmy Boyle who spent a decade in and out of British prisons. Boyle's life story is captivating; following his turbulent years in and out of captivity, until in later life he married a psychiatrist and became involved in rehabilitating convicts.

Stars David Hayman, Jake D'Arcy & Sean Scanlan.

Watch  A SENSE OF FREEDOM free with Prime

4) STARRED UP (2013)

Directed by David MacKenzie

IMDB Rating 7.4

Outline: David Mackenzie's 'Starred Up' stars Jack O'Connell as a troubled and explosively violent teenager transferred to adult prison where he finally meets his match - a man who also happens to be his father

Stars Jack O'Connell, Rupert Friend & Ben Mendelsohn.

Watch STARRED UP on Amazon


Directed by Steve McQueen

IMDB Rating 7.5

Outline: The story of Bobby Sands, the IRA member who led the 1981 hunger strike in which Republican prisoners tried to win political status. It details events in the Maze prison in the six weeks prior to Sands’ death. An exploration of what happens when body and mind are pushed to the uttermost limit.

Stars Michael Fassbender, Ciaran Flynn, Billy Clarke.

Watch HUNGER on Amazon

2) SCUM (1979)

Directed by Alan Clarke

IMDB Rating 7.6

Outline: Ray Winstone stars in one of the most seminal films of 1980's Britain. After assaulting a warder, young offender Carlin (Ray Winstone) is transferred to a tough Borstal where the staff decide to break him with savage, relentless violence. Carlin knows that there is only one way to survive. He must fight back and become the new 'Daddy'.

Stars Ray Winstone, Mick Ford, Phil Daniels.

Watch SCUM free with Amazon Prime


Directed by Alan Parker

IMDB Rating 7.6

Outline: Midnight Express is based on the true and vivid story of Billy Hayes, a young American sentenced in Turkey to 30 years of prison for a minor drug offence. He endures physical and emotional beatings which become a daily routine - until he realizes that unless he escapes... he will die! Nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Alan Parker, the film went on to win Best..

Starring Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins.



This product has been added to your cart