I’ve personally been enjoying Sylvester Stallone’s crusade since 2006 to make himself relevant again, and resurrect the glory of 1980’s action movies. I’ll shamefully admit I’ve never seen a single Rocky or Rambo movie, but I’ve loved both Expendables movies, and have fond memories of watching Demolition Man way too many times (and still don’t know how the three seashells work!).
When I was presented with the opportunity to see an advance screening of Escape Plan, I jumped at it right away, and I’m glad I did. While by no means a masterpiece, it was definitely a fun way to spend a random Tuesday evening. Plus, seeing Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger co-star in a movie for the first time (yes, Schwarzenegger was in both Expendables movies, but was by no means a lead) is a spectacle in itself worth seeing.
Escape Plan is a tough movie to assign a genre to. While on the surface it’s a prison break film, there’s also a very strong buddy film feeling to it. On top of that, there’s plenty of action/fighting, with just right amount of comedy sprinkled in as well.
The premise of the movie is laid pretty clear in the trailers. Stallone plays a man named Ray Breslin, who works for a type of security company that specializes in breaking out of prisons to expose their weaknesses (kind of like Sneakers, but breaking out instead of in, and with a lot more violence). After accepting a job trying to break out of a private prison whose location is unknown, Breslin discovers he’s been setup, and there’s someone out there who legitimately does not want him to break out EVER. When he comes to terms with this, he befriends an inmate by the name of Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), and the two of them are determined to take down the very corrupt Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), and break out of this mysterious prison.
Stallone and Schwarzenegger play a good duo, complimenting one another very well on screen. Jim Caviezel was going for the calm, evil type of warden. At the beginning of the movie, I thought he came across as calm and indifferent, but definitely grew more evil as the story progressed, making it more enjoyable. Add to this some small supporting roles by Sam Neill as the prison’s doctor, and Amy Ryan and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson as Breslin’s co-workers at the security company, and you’ve got yourself a very well-rounded cast.
As with most action movies (and movies in general) you have to suspend your belief and not take it too seriously. There are ridiculous things that occur that can’t be explained, like the entire prison staff falling for Rottmayer causing an obvious diversion so Breslin can work his magic without being noticed, or how most characters end up with guns at one point that we never see them obtain. When you come across these types of things in a movie of this nature, you have to remind yourself it’s a popcorn flick, and just enjoy the ride it’s taking you on.
As I mentioned above, Escape Plan is far from a masterpiece, but it isn’t trying to be one either. It’s a fun, ridiculous action movie that fans of the genre will get a kick out of. Though Stallone and Schwarzenegger are both well beyond the age of being active members of AARP, they can still hold their own without a problem in the world of action films. I hope this isn’t the last time we see the two of them team up together like this, because while action movies are a dime a dozen, action movies with Stallone and Schwarzenegger are definitely something special.