Is The System (2022) Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: YouTube/The Avenue Film

Directed by Dallas Jackson, ‘The System’ is driven by an intense narrative centering around Terry Savage, a former war hero whose circumstances force him to take the route of crime. This 2022 action movie delves into Terry’s attempts to rob drug houses in order to secure medical treatment for his daughter. When he gets caught, he is given two options by the authorities — either go to prison for a decade or become an informant for the police in a dangerous private prison.

Through Terry Savage’s journey, the film explores the prison system, corruption, high-stakes challenges, and survival. The film’s dark and gritty portrayal of the corrupt prison system and the criminal underworld bear the possibility to prompt many to question if the movie is inspired by actual events. Let’s delve in and explore whether ‘The System’ is based on fact or fiction!

Is The System a True Story?

No, ‘The System’ is not based on a true story. Though the intense narrative revolving around the problems in the prison system might seem authentic to many, the movie is actually a straightforward work of fiction. The film does touch upon certain real-world issues, such as people forced to commit crimes because of desperate situations and corruption in the private prison institution. However, the characters and events in the movie stem from the creative imagination of writer-director Dallas Jackson and are not a direct exact representation of any real occurrences.

In an interview with The Afro, Dallas Jackson talked about the creation of the movie. He said, “The film originated from two things. One, I got sent an article about prisoners being made to fight to the death in an upstate New York prison.” He further mentioned, “Then I read another article that got sent to me, maybe about a month later, about the corruption in the private prison system, in this kind of tri-prison system in Texas, where prisoners were being made to do free labor.”

The writer and director of the film, Dallas Jackson, has crafted the narrative with several suspenseful elements that will captivate the audience. As the movie progresses, we encounter familiar elements that are often seen in prison films. From Bones (Terrence Howard), mentor of Terry in combat and strategy, to the brutal head guard Killian (Hawk Walts), the film does embrace some of the prison movie clichés. The corrupt Warden Lucas (Jeremy Piven) further adds to the atmosphere of trust and suspense.

The central character, Terry Savage — brought to life by Tyrese Gibson — is a war hero who is unable to finance his daughter’s medical treatment, and as a last resort, he is forced to rob drug houses. When his criminal exploits lead him to make a difficult choice, he finds himself in the middle of a private prison that is known for its high inmate mortality rate. As he infiltrates the criminal underworld in the prison, he is exposed to a world of corruption, danger, and brutality at every level. The movie delves into the dark world of prison, filled with exploitation and peril, which gives it a sense of gritty realism, fueling speculation about its verisimilitude.

While discussing the message of the film in an interview with Cryptic Rock, the actor stated, “It’s not that often films have messages in them; so many people are focused on things blowing up. I really wanted people to know there are some real things going on out here. We are literally at war; mental, emotional, spiritual warfare that is happening every single day.” He further elaborates on it by saying that the motivation was creating this discomfort with Black and Brown people to say, “Man I hope I never go to jail; did you see that sh-t?”

Tyrese also talked about the failure of incarceration systems in the country. “Yea it’s dangerous, but I’m not missing a meal, I have a shower, and I have a place to sleep. Then you chuck someone back into the streets and everything about their life from ten years ago is gone and don’t have anything. So, you’re right back thrusted into survival instincts; hustling and doing whatever it takes to stay afloat. Most people have to make bad choices while they are getting quick money,” he added.

Tyrese Gibson has a versatile acting range, and the role of Terry Savage proves it. He brings a layer of authenticity to the film through his emotional and compelling portrayal of a father torn between determination and desperation. The intense character had an impact on Tyrese as well. He talks about the aftermath of the shoot in the Cryptic Rock interview, “It took me three months of therapy after this film was over to decompress from all the energy that we experienced in an active prison in Mississippi, in real jail cells, and around real prison inmates. Also, the energy of being in Mississippi and its long history of racism and slavery… it was just uncomfortable.”

Therefore, taking the aforementioned factors into account, we conclude that ‘The System’ intertwines themes of corruption, survival, and desperation in the context of a private prison. Its realistic depiction of the central elements might lead some viewers to question its authenticity, but it is nonetheless a work of fiction. Inspired by real-world emotions and issues, ‘The System’ weaves together a fictional tale that moves and captivates the audience.

Read More: Best Asian Action Movies of All Time