'Escape Plan' Review: Hasta La Vista, Common Sense

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Escape Plan Review: Hasta La Vista, Common Sense

By Agent Bedhead | Film Reviews | October 18, 2013 | Comments ()


With The Escape Plan, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger aim their hopeful gaze towards the ultimate genre movie event; this is, if we’re talking about the year 1985. This pulpy action movie was designed as a co-starring vehicle for two former box-office rivals who have recently spent a few sparse minutes together onscreen in The Expendables franchise. Now it’s supposed to be the real deal. Just Sly and Arnie in a movie together where none of the other characters really matter. Sounds perfect, right?

Well it’s not perfect. But it is alright.

Sly plays Breslin, a world renowned prison security consultant and author. His general game plan is to get himself incarcerated in the highest-security prisons and then expose their weak points by breaking out. He’s usually wired and has a team of specialists working with him from the outside. When Breslin ends up taking a deal (courtesy of the CIA) for a super-secret, corporatized, maximum-security facility that contains “the worst of the worst,” all bets are off. Double crossed and left at the mercy of sadistic prison officials, Breslin is tortured in various ways including sleep deprivation. All seems hopeless until he meets up with Arnold’s Rottmeyer, an inmate who takes a special interest in Breslin. At first, Rottmeyer shows his usefulness by protecting Breslin from getting his ass kicked. Eventually, the two team up to break out of the joint together

The smaller roles in this movie only serve as a distraction to the main attraction. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson plays a tech genius with computers. Fiddy only really demonstrates that his acting is as lazy as his rapping. Jim Caviezel steps in as the vicious warden, and Vinnie Jones assumes the persona of a rough-and-tumble guard. The prison, too, is its own character and is utterly ridiculous with glass-constructed cells so prisoners can be observed at all angles at all times. It’s supposed to remind us of Demolition Man, I guess.

Forget all that. This film experience is all about the two leads. Stallone assumes the straight man persona, and Arnold is the wise-cracking counterpoint. The script tries to set up Arnold with a new set of trademark one liners, but it doesn’t exactly succeed. They don’t make one liners as snappy as they did in the 1980s. Arnold still tries his damndest to have some fun in his role. He and Stallone do seem to enjoy bouncing off each other and playing around with their former status as genre studs.

The high-concept story would be fine enough for a threadbare film designed for these two leads to enjoy more than a few minutes together on the big screen. Unfortunately, the plot grows a little too convoluted with too many pesky details that weigh down what would otherwise be a wild ride. Plus, there’s just not enough action to satisfy the target audience’s bloodlust. The fights seem too clean and choreographed, and there’s no down-and-dirty action at all. When Arnold finally wraps his hands around a gun, the movie takes off a little bit. He speaks some German too, which is much more enjoyable than you’d ever imagine — I can’t believe this hasn’t happened sooner in an Arnie pic.

Fans of 1980s action pics will enjoy this movie enough. It’s not the most satisfying team-up one can imagine between Sly and Arnold, but these men simply wouldn’t be believable doing the crazy ass stunts they used to perform. Hell, those stunts weren’t even believable back then, but they worked because Sly and Arnold threw themselves into the fray with such gusto. Here Arnold does all the heavy lifting (with less screen time) while Sly walks around grimacing and trying to move his plastic surgery face. Yes I went there. If Nicole Kidman can be called out for her Botox abuse, then I sure as hell don’t mind saying that Stallone’s vanity ruins the marvelously rough face we fans used to enjoy.

Seriously, can I make fun of these guys for being “old” and still trying to bring it like they’re 35 years old and freshly pumped full of steroids? Hell yes, I can. If this were two women trying to make the same movie, well, that movie would have never been made. These days, the likes of Arnold and Sly’s former physical prowess has been replaced in Hollywood by CGI trickery and spray-tanned abs. Seeing these 60-something guys go through the motions does feel fresh in a way even if they are slower than they used to be. Fortunately, Arnold’s charisma shines through and keeps the film feeling alive, but just barely.

Sadly, the final product reminds me a lot of Righteous Kill in that we’ve got two leads, who have circled each other for decades, finally coupling up for an extended joint effort. Now Stallone and Schwarzenegger (unlike Al Pacino and Robert De Niro) might not be legendary actors, but they are legends in terms of their genre. What do we get from Arnie and Sly in their own movie together? We get a half-assed story, not enough action, and a wasted opportunity. It’s not the worst experience if you just want to see these guys back in (half-)action, but it could have been so much more. Escape Plan was content enough to throw Arnold and Sylvester together and hope the rest of the movie would magically come together. The end result is simply not enough to live up to expectations.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • manting

    From only the trailer there are numerous problems - What guard is going to work at this prison? Does he get to leave? Does he go home to his family? I had a lot of respect for Stallone and Arnold but they have used up my patience and good will. Just like Lucas and Spielburg

  • Dragonchild

    I'm with you on these guys reliving their glory by working together, but your first question has a very plausible answer -- roughnecks. Guys in their early- to mid-20s with no family to tie them down, and not much else to offer other than the willingness to work long hours of physically demanding labor in isolation. They typically work in (for lack of a better term) "resource extraction", whether it's crab fishing or coal mining. They get paid more money for even seasonal work than most people make in a year (precisely because the job sucks), but are also known for spending what they make in even less time.

  • bastich

    What made them waste their time on this flick when they could have been filming "Rambo Vs. Commando"?

  • manting

    There is a freddy v Jason element at play here. I want (and I believe others do too) to see them fight each other. A brutal 15 minute fight that starts with big guns, then smaller guns, then axes or sledgehammers, and finally fists.

  • e jerry powell

    Rambo goes Commando would be nominally more interesting.

  • JustOP

    'These days, the likes of Arnold and Sly’s former physical prowess has been
    replaced in Hollywood by CGI trickery and spray-tanned abs'

    You know, for two 50+ year old guys, Sly and Arnold are still fucking ripped. Whilst Arnold may have a bit of a gut now, but he still has a massive ammount of muscle mass. Sly on the other hand is looking fantastic.

    (Although, these guys couldn't look like this without the use of stuff like test/tren, so they aren't exactly natural (which I doubt they've ever been anyway)).

  • manting

    but they both use steroids - so its really not that impressive. Its like saying I have a 193 IQ but I was caught cheating on the test

  • JustOP

    You do realize steroids aren't a magic pill that just cause muscle growth? You still have to do all the working out for steroids to have any effect - and these guys are are nearly 70 years old. It's nothing like saying you have a 193 IQ and then being caught cheating. It's more like doing a ton of weightlifting but seeing results faster.

  • manting

    but still cheating.

  • JustOP

    What exactly has he cheated?

  • manting

    His fans. Look, if you want to rationalize your steroid use go ahead. Stallone is a role model (not as much as he used to be) so his use of steroids promotes steroid use. This is wrong.

  • JustOP

    I don't use steroids, so why would I need to rationalize their use? Furthermore, why would promoting steroid usage be wrong, in the context of muscle gain/growth?

  • manting

    Because of the laundry list of side effects. Arnold and Sly can afford to have the steroids administered under a doctors supervision, they have nutritionalists, and they can afford the best and safest versions of anabolic steroids. Im guessing you've never had a friend with steroid problems who died at 25 from liver problems. Its a very dangerous drug and should not be abused simply to get jacked quicker. Its a cheat and a dangerous one. That is why steroid usage is wrong, oh and its illegal in the U.S. without a prescription. A federal offense.

  • Sean

    Less impressive knowing that both are still taking roids and HGH. Remember Stallone's arrest a few years ago in Australia?

  • JustOP

    What does his arrest have to do with anything?

  • manting

    he was arrested for having steroids - I believe bringing them into AU is illegal. http://www.thehollywoodgossip....

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Stallone is 67 and Arnold is 66. It's even more impressive when you realize they're both closer to 70 than 50.

  • e jerry powell

    Damn. The Governator is going for Naughty Sex Daddy status in that header photo.

    Not to suggest that he wasn't already playing Naughty Sex Daddy before the movie started production.

  • bastich

    I think you just came up with the next "Expendables" sequel title.

  • e jerry powell

    I prefer the Ouija board approach, but okay. As long as I get back-end points after payout.

  • Batman

    Some say the prison is from the same set as Face Off. It's not true but people do say that.

  • I plan on watching the hell out of this movie...as soon as it comes out on DVD. Some movies need to be seen in theaters the first time you see them, but I don't think this is one of them.

  • Sean

    "If Nicole Kidman can be called out for her Botox abuse, then I sure as
    hell don’t mind saying that Stallone’s vanity ruins the marvelously
    rough face we fans used to enjoy. "

    You also need to comment about their ridiculous hair plugs.

  • e jerry powell

    Oh, that's only the first two items on a LONG list.

  • Debra Stephen

    My Uncle Harrison just got a fantastic white Acura ILX Hybrid by working parttime off of a computer...
    read w­w­w.P­o­w­6.c­o­m

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