Review: Escape Plan
Ray Breslin, a smart and successful security operative who breaks out of prisons for a living, finds himself set up and trapped inside a private incarceration centre. Glass cubes, masked guards, unbridled brutality are all around, as Ray teams up with another inmate to escape the most secure prison ever built.
It’s Sylvester Stallone as Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger as his accomplice in all their old, stone-faced glory. Amy Ryan, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, and Vincent D’Onofrio are Breslin’s colleagues, while Jim Caviezel is the prison’s slimy warden, and Sam Neil the dutiful doctor
That these two action superstars are a combined 133 years old and still running, punching, and shooting their way through movies is pretty impressive. Never mind that sometimes you can’t understand what they are saying, and that between cosmetic surgeries and rehab stints, it’s hard to say how often they’ve been in the hospital.
Escape Plan some silly fun; or at least, eventually it is. There are unnecessary attempts to build up a back story for Breslin, a man romantically entangled with his blonde colleague (Ryan) and acting as a sort of mentor for a younger operative (Jackson). Part MacGyver, part Silva from Skyfall, and all parts badass Rambo, Breslin’s mind works in a Matrix-style way to breakdown holes in prisons in order to plan his escape. It’s absurdist fun every time he gets into analytical mode.
The glass box of hopelessness he gets thrown into marks his greatest challenge, especially since he has literally written the book on secure prisons, and its clear someone in charge is a fan. Caviezel’s Warden Hobbes is nicely slithery, his well-tailored suits and penchant for taxidermy laying on thick he peculiarity.
It takes too much time for Stallone’s partner-in-crime to make his appearance, but it’s hard not to enjoy the pair making barbs and throwing punches. Their characters slow-building friendship and elaborate schemes crank up the excitement, even though it’s stunted by a silly attempt to make Breslin seem in peril (the warden tries to break him, and director Mikael Håfström seems to not care at all about this slight twist).
Everything is nicely convenient for the pair to plot their steps, and this wannabe labyrinth of incarceration is full of holes, but where is the fun in nit-picking? Håfström and company know when to lay on the melodrama, and whatever faults and diatribes exists in the first two thirds of the film are redeemed by a thrilling and giddy ending. We want Arnie and Sly to wreak havoc, make jokes about their age, and offer up cheesy, memorable one-liners, all the while they get into more ridiculous situations. Mission accomplished.
Should You See It?
It’s as advertised, no better, and no worse. Every box is checked in the aging-action-stars-pseudo-serious-thriller genre. It won’t be long before these guys stop doing this, so enjoy it for what it is.