Escape Plan 2 review: Sylvester Stallone returns to jail with another Escape Plan in this B-grade sequel, minus the muscle of Arnie.
Escape Plan 2 review by Awais Irfan.
There was something abhorrently enjoyable about the first Escape Plan and watching action beefcakes Sly Stallone and Arnie Schwarzenegger fighting their way out of a prison; 5 years later and the direct-to-VOD sequel brings the former back into action for another escape plan.
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Except for that Escape Plan: Hades is just awful. Sure, whilst it wasn’t the best film ever, the first Escape Plan had enough fun with its material to be a fairly enjoyable, disposable throwback actioner – certainly entertaining enough to warrant a sequel (two actually, because Escape Plan 3 is already in the can and eyeing a late 2018 release so we have that to look forward to), albeit if straight to the home entertainment platforms it goes. You’d think that if Escape Plan 2 was similarly over-the-top, it could be alright. B movies usually have a standard of being a little bit cheaper and rougher around the edges than your glossy cinema blockbusters so it usually gives them a bit more leeway to be a bit less competent and cinematic. The thing with this film though is that this film is so shockingly abysmal that it’s not even up to that mark.
The plot is all over the place; we reunite with Ray Benson (Stallone), head of the Atlanta firm that design inescapable prisons for anyone that can afford it. In the tech-savvy world that director Steven C. Miller sets the film in, we have the futuristic hellhole Hades: an ever-changing prison. After a string of events lead a couple of Benson’s former employees, Jaspar (Wes Chatham) and Shu Ren (Huang Xiaoming), to Hades, Benson enlists the help of a former associate (Dave Bautista stepping in after Arnie’s departure as second A-list muscle) and a few of his Atlanta crew – Curtis 50 Cent Jackson; Jesse Metcalf and Jaime King – for a breakout. The narrative is clunky, convoluted and feels like it’s constantly all over the place with no real sense of direction or idea what it wants to be which becomes frustratingly difficult to follow along with as it meanders around, making very left-field decisions to try to be “surprising” and “different” – all these supposed twists being painfully predictable and laughably executed, by the way. It’s just a sprawling mess, overstuffed with one-dimensional characters and threads that never come together.
But, then again, we don’t exactly expect world-class writing from a straight-to-video Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Dave Bautista now, do we? However, the action is not good either. For starters, there’s not a whole lot of it and the sequences are horribly shot with too much shaky cam really making it hard to keep up with what’s actually going on. Miller’s direction of action has always been weak and this is no exception; the scenes are way too cluttered and contrived in their choreography and execution. There’s feeling like an 80’s action film and then there’s just having such poor handle of crafting action that it feels like it’s from a bad 80s film. This is the latter. It also looks awful. The effects are shoddy and the film uses neon colours for the sake of using neon colours and it just adds a sense of artifice to the proceedings that don’t exactly help its case. As far as star power goes, the marketing boasts Stallone and Bautista being the two key players of Hades but the former is hardly in it and the latter doesn’t have a lot to do either; it’s almost as if Miller didn’t get either for very long and has to sprinkle them throughout to remind us the film has this star power to utilise.
Honestly, it’s pretty easy to see just why Escape Plan 2 went straight to video. It’s awful. Nothing about it works. From a cluttered and confused story to some horrible dialogue, weak characters, uninspired visuals, bad acting and some very dull action, it’s just a mess from start to finish that is painfully one-dimensional and boring to watch. Fittingly, this film lives up to its title in that it belongs alongside Hades in the underworld. Dead. Gone. Away from us. Maybe that would have been for the better. Even Arnie knew to quit this franchise whilst he was ahead.
Escape Plan 2 is released in UK cinemas and on digital from Friday 20th July 2018.