UK Release Date: 18th October 2013
Runtime: 115 minutes
Director: Mikael Håfström
Writer: Miles Chapman, Jason Keller
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, Vinnie Jones, 50 Cent
Synopsis: A security contractor who breaks out from high security prisons is abandoned in a new, unconventional facility that is supposedly completely inescapable.
On paper, Escape Plan was on to a winner from the start. The team-up of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger – two of action cinema’s biggest icons – is enough to draw any fan to the cinema for two hours of stupid fun. Unfortunately, Escape Plan isn’t the tongue in cheek slice of shooty fun that it should have been.
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is the world’s main authority on security. He breaks out of maximum security prisons for a living. His latest assignment has him sent into a brand new, experimental facility run by the tyrannical Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel). When he realises that no-one is coming to get him this time, he befriends fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and begins to plan his escape.
Escape Plan is, quite simply, a film that has enormous tonal problems right from the start. After the recent “geriaction” efforts of its stars and action movies as deliriously stupid as White House Down filling cinemas, Escape Plan should’ve embraced cheese and silliness. Instead, for most of its runtime, the film plays out as a straight-faced, far too serious, prison thriller.
Stallone does his usual gruff thing reasonably well, but Schwarzenegger is the true delight. He throw himself around like a man half his age, and even gets to speak his native German on screen for the first time. Jim Caviezel munches dramatically on the scenery in every scene he inhabits, providing a great panto villain to the duo of heroes.
It isn’t until the third act, and the inevitable escape attempt, that Escape Plan really comes to life. Stallone and Schwarzenegger are far more interesting with an automatic weapon in their hands and finally stuff starts to explode and blood begins to slosh. Unfortunately, by the time this happens, 90 minutes of fairly tedious prison drama has already occurred and most of the audience has fallen asleep. There’s only so long that a film can survive on workmanlike, dreary banter between action stars.
Director Mikael Håfström has a real aptitude for action sequences and so the violence in Escape Plan really works. The punches are felt and the gunfire feels visceral. It’s just a shame that this fun material is sidelined in favour of lazy plotting and a weak script.
Pop or Poop?
There’s a good, silly action film somewhere within Escape Plan. However, instead of coming to the surface, it is locked away deep inside a maximum security cell.
Stallone and Schwarzenegger make a decent fist of things, but the script plays it straight when silliness would’ve been better. Escape Plan, and action cinema in general, is at its best when it lets the explosions do the talking.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.