Do you need to assemble the greatest jailbreak team of all time? You’ll need a few cogs to get the wheel turning, some role players to execute, and a couple people who can think outside the box.
What you may not know is that The Prompt is a creative crime syndicate. So we asked nine of our writers to assembled a dream team for springing us from the big house, in case we ever get locked up.
Every jailbreak crew needs a talent-gatherer. Someone with an eye for talent to bring the crew together: The Recruiter. I’m talking about the one putting together a team, who’s scouting folks with skills and wooing them with charm and the promise of glory/freedom/rewards down the line. The Recruiter can see what roles need to be filled, and who to fill them with. They’re a planner, a people-person, and a problem-solver all in one. The Recruiter sees people’s strengths and weaknesses, and knows just how hard to push people. The ultimate team player with an eye for how to make the team better, The Recruiter is the one to find the people to get the job done. Our recruiter is the charismatic Robert Pattinson.
Every jail has cells. Every cell has locks. And A + B = C. That’s why it is imperative that we get the best lock-picker in the biz. This kid has more wisdom in his baby teeth than most hardened criminals have picked up after years in the clink. Tommy Pickles has worked hundreds of jobs, springing gangs over and over because of his cleverness in hiding tools on his person, but also in his keen eye for recognizing guards’ security behavior patterns. While his first few escapes were past primitive lockdown systems, Pickles stays one step ahead of security, learning new tricks each time. He’s not any geek off the street, he’s handy with the steel, if you know what I mean, earns his keep.
To effectively pull off a jailbreak you can’t simply rely on a guard turning a blind eye in your direction. To ensure you can carry out your escape without actually being in anyone’s sight takes maneuvering and misdirection and mystery. It takes The Distraction.
There isn’t much that The Distraction isn’t willing to do—or become—for the sake of the plan. With a little glam, The Distraction transforms into a damsel in distress ready to collapse inside the gate; a prison guard, who underneath the button down, is really a prisoner who has a bone to pick with a cellmate; or a passerby who rigs two tons of fireworks to blow just before you break through your cell wall (leading the French press to dub her l’étincelle— translation: The Spark). The Distraction will execute commotion and take your actions from being a blimp to a blip on the radar.
With the stakes so high, there is only one Distraction suitable for the job: the unflappable chameleon Kate McKinnon. Taking on every role from Lindsey Graham to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (may she rest in peace), Kate has proven that she can portray nearly everyone —all without breaking.
Everyone knows that prisons are watched from every angle except one: underground. The simplest way to get into a prison without having people on the inside, without having to circumvent security measures, is from below. You need a mole. Someone who can tunnel and move earth, someone who can give you a direct route that the warden and his cronies won’t even know they need to be keeping an eye on.
However, the Feds probably know this person’s special talents, and they aren’t going to be keeping them next to an exterior wall or even on the ground floor. So once we’ve burrowed our way into the grounds, are we going to be running around like mice in a maze spray painting cameras, hacking the mainframe to disable alarms and locks, hiding under cardboard boxes like Solid Snake? Being sneaky takes time. If we want speed, then we need to go in as straight a line as possible. That means we need to go through walls and security measures. We need a DEMOLITION MAN. We need a Mole and a Demolition Man. We need them in one package. We need a de-MOLE-ition Man. That’s right. We need Dig Dug.
Is it the cherub-cheeked guard who was just hired and is trying a little too hard to look like he belongs? Is it the kitchen crew member who always watches the lunch hour with a hopeful look on his face, clearly wanting to see some action? Or maybe it’s the amiable Laundry Services guy who has a sweet smile and always smells like fresh linen. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are soft enough to bend to the will of the jailbreak team. They might not even know that what’s being asked of them will lead to a jailbreak, and at the end of the day, they don’t care so long as no one knows they had a hand in whatever goes down. They just want to be part of it so they can look back from their deathbed and think “That was pretty cool that one time.” Which is why the obvious choice for the Malleable Rube is none other than Simon Pegg. He’s the right level of competent to not screw up his part and the right amount of obliviousness to avoid a lot of punishment if caught.
So, your crew got out. But how are you going to get away?
Cue The Driver, Minnie Driver.
Minnie can take the wheel and steer any vehicle to success. Drama, comedy, musicals, TV, voice-acting, dirt bikes, ATVs, stock cars, boats, propeller planes, she’s an EGOT threat with a CDL!
She’s a veteran with hundreds of jobs under her belt. The Driver thrives because her talent makes her elusive. Memorable, but always slipping away, somehow. Not convinced? Try this: Name one movie she’s been in, besides Good Will Hunting.
I bet the answer escapes you.
Part-surgeon, part-methodologist, part-coach, part-sociopath, The Mastermind recruits The Recruiter and builds a team of misfits, risking failure, life, and liberty for a handsome reward. While the other players’ motivations are simpler, purer, and shinier, The Mastermind wants more than just the upside of freedom. They get an almost erotic satisfaction from beating the system. I believe it is called a superiority complex.
The Mastermind has to command a room, to get people to listen and buy-in. They need instantaneous credibility. A cool, understated self-assuredness that doesn’t invite resistance. And the kind of side-eye glance that instills the fear of god. With her mean girl good looks, unflappable confidence, and archer’s bow eyebrows, Taraji P. Henson will lead us out of this cell and into the promised land.
While everyone else is out trying to be a hero, tagging bad guys and springing POWs like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo II, The Ghost knows less is more.
The Ghost’s strategy is the equivalent of leaving your back row of checkers in place so your opponent can’t get a king: As long as you stay put, your team will never lose. The Ghost’s talent comes in their uncanny ability to find the neighborhood’s best hiding place and then stick to it until his face ends up on a milk carton. Seasons change, teammates grow old, and still, The Ghost remains hidden in that overgrown patch of sticker bushes no sane person would dare hide.
That’s not to say The Ghost’s job isn’t dangerous. All across America, countless suburban children are lost every year because of their Ghost roles, lying in wait until the game is long over. That’s why the only real person for the job is Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who continued to defend a small island in the Philippines until he wandered out of the jungle in 1974 and discovered World War II was over.
Is there a jailbreak crew that can even consider without going forward without a competent Steve? I mean, just picture it: It’s the night of the breakout. The team, after months of preparation, is assembled, executing their roles with the precision of a Swiss timepiece. This entire time, you’ve thought to yourself, “All of us are contributing to this effort except for Steven. What the hell does he even bring to the table?”
And, right as the final wall, is about to give way, disaster! A file clatters to the ground. The guards have been alerted. You hear their boots approach. It’s only a matter of time before this entire effort collapses like a house of cards. That’s when our Steven, in this case Owen Wilson, touches his finger to his lips to silence you all, then fills the night air with a spot-on imitation of a Barred Owl.
“Wait, was that a Barred Owl?,” asks guard #1?
“I’m not sure,” replies guard #2, “but better safe than sorry. Let’s go!”
The boots, only moments ago sprinting toward your location, poised to end your bid for freedom, now just as hurriedly run away from you. Steve smiles. He knows you didn’t understand why a Steve was needed until just now. That’s okay. No one did.