Director: Mikael Håfström
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Curtins ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones.
Running Time: 116 minutes.
Synopsis: When a structural-security authority finds himself set up and incarcerated in the world’s most secret and secure prison, he has to use his skills to escape with help from the inside.
Let’s not beat around the bush with this review. ESCAPE PLAN is the Sly and Arnie comeback we’ve all been waiting for. After the mediocre misfires of BULLET TO THE HEAD, THE LAST STAND and even THE EXPENDABLES 2 to some degree, ESCAPE PLAN is the filmic equivalent of Ronseal, it does exactly what it does on the tin and delivers thrills, spills and Stallone and Schwarzenegger kills. The boys are back, they’re properly together at last, and they’re packing a bigger punch than ever before.
Stallone returns to the familiar ground of the prison-action-movie, a territory he literally owned in the late 1980s. Here he plays the character of Ray Breslin, co-owner of Breslin-Clark, a Los Angeles based security company that specialises in testing out maximum security prisons in the United States. Breslin’s ‘talent’ is that he can be placed in the toughest of tough prisons, and break out of them with the greatest of ease. That is until he gets offered a massive pay day to enter ‘The Tomb,’ a super-maximum-security jail that, as the movie tagline says, is the ‘most secure prison ever built.’ Once inside, Breslin is essentially left for dead and his only way of escape is to join forces with fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, to concoct an elaborate plan to find a way out to freedom.
Don’t get me wrong, ESCAPE PLAN is not at all taxing on the old grey matter, and we’re not going to see Stallone or Schwarzenegger eagerly preparing Oscar acceptance speeches for early next year either (although I was impressed seeing Schwarzenegger act using his native tongue – that’s got to be a movie first). This is not a film which displays anything that we haven’t seen before, and in fact the storyline resembles many action movies and TV shows from yesteryear, most notably the likes of Stallone’s 1980’s hit LOCK-UP, or even the more recent Prison Break, which is almost identical in terms of plot. This is very much a paint-by-numbers action flick. It’s very predictable in places, the dialogue corny and very much structured to get the most out of the fact that this is the first proper movie that these two action movie icons have headlined together.
Despite all of this, I could not help but love every single moment of it, and that fact that it had all of the above faults with it, not any single one of them mattered as the film did the one thing for me that it set out to do. It entertainment me. It’s easily Stallone’s best film since, well, let’s say many years, and it’s Schwarzenegger’s best since, well, let’s say… 1994. Jim Caviezel is solid, and is most importantly a worthy villain, which all great action movies must have, and even the likes of Vinnie Jones and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson deliver the goods as the bad guy henchman and comedy, tech-geek sidekick respectively.
I had a blast with the film, was entertained and thrilled from start to finish, leaving the screening with a great, big silly smile right across my face, and when that happens after watching a balls-to-the-wall fun, sweary, sweaty, brawny, muscle-fest like this, you have to ask yourself the question; what more do you want?