Thursday 19 April 2018

Movie Review: Escape Plan (2013)

The first on-screen teaming of 1980s muscular action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Escape Plan offers an original but ultimately dispiritingly weak and disjointed plot, plus some rehashed B-grade action.

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a prison escape consultant, hired by the Federal Government to break out of high security prisons and identify their weaknesses. His team includes business partner Lester (Vincent D'Onofrio), technical wizard Hush (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) and strategist Abigail Ross (Amy Ryan). Against the advice of Hush and Abigail, Ray accepts a CIA assignment to test the security features of a top-secret private sector prison holding people the US government wants to make disappear.

Once inside Ray realizes something has gone very wrong. Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) and his vicious right hand man Drake (Vinnie Jones) have every intention of keeping him incarcerated for ever. Ray teams up with fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who is harbouring secrets about elusive Robin Hood-type fugitive Victor Mannheim, and they start to develop a daring escape plan.

Directed by Mikael Håfström, Escape Plan deserves credit for conjuring up some decent original ideas. Few action films feature a prison escape consultant as the main protagonist, and fewer still manage to combine prison drama sweatiness with the dirty politics of illegally held detainees. The Miles Chapman story (he also co-wrote the script) also has one ace trick up its sleeve related to the actual location of the secret facility from which Ray Breslin has to escape.

Although pairing Stallone and Schwarzenegger was never going to be about cerebral stimulation, they do develop a basic level of rapport albeit without any edge. Despite the star presence, Escape Plan soon runs into trouble, as none of the two key plot points are adequately explained. Breslin is being betrayed, although the conspiracy against him is poorly developed and it is painfully obvious that trying to get rid of a prison escape consultant by throwing him into prison may have drawbacks. Emil Rottmayer's story is handled even more poorly. His relationship with the mysterious Mannheim becomes central to the escape plan, but is not provided the necessary space to mature.

The problems multiply as the film progresses, the sadistic actions of Warden Hobbes and his henchman Drake occupying far too much time, while the finer details of the attempted breakout get murkier. Sam Neill shows up as an unsure prison doctor and a cavalry-type rescue party gate crashes the climax, and most of the logic surrounding their involvement escapes from the script.

Of course Escape Plan ends with Arnold getting his hands on a massive machine gun and spraying bullets all over the place. The stars may age, but some of their signature moves never get old.

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1 comment:

  1. I thought the movie was okay at best, but Sly Stallone and Arnie's best days were behind them.


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