I attended to the early bird showing of Escape Plan yesterday morning. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the headline actors-So yeah, I was not expecting the most thought provoking movie of the century. I was surprised to find that I wasn’t completely wrong. It is definitely a male bro action movie, but with a hint of suspense and an unpredictable plot twist.
To summarize (without giving out the ending):
Ray Breslin (Stallone) makes a living from breaking out of state of the art prisons-Testing and reporting of any weaknesses in the systems. He has even written a book based on his discoveries and techniques.
Breslin is requested by the CIA to test out a new secret prison that is privately owned and under the radar. From the brutal abduction to his entrance to this prison affectionately called “The Tomb,” Breslin becomes aware of his betrayal and realizes he’s in fact imprisoned permanently. He quickly gains the trust of fellow inmate, Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), and they team up to plan an escape.
A couple notable scenes:
This is probably the best acting out of Schwarzenegger since Pumping Iron. In that early docu-drama that helped catapult his career and grow his awareness to the public, he was essentially playing himself.
There is a scene in Escape Plan where Rottmayer is trying to distract the evil Warden Hobbes (James Caviezel. Yes, Jesus!) while Breslin is attempting to do recon on a possible escape route. Arnold plays up the insanity of his tortured stay in solitary confinement by kneeling and pleading to the Warden who stood before him, and speaking the Lord’s Prayer – in German.
The scene worked so well for two reasons-Arnold was very comfortable and confident acting and speaking in his native Austrian language, and of course for the irony in that he was praying to the actor who portrayed Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. There is also another point in the movie where Caviezel virtually denounces his former, dare I say iconic role.
It is also funny that these the two leads, Sly & Arnold, who have been action stars for 30 years, good friends and business partners for just as long, are now finally starring (billed) in a movie together …in their fekin senior years. Why couldn’t they do this earlier? As the 90s came and the need for big man muscle action movies started to dwindle down in interest, I speculate their team up should have happened then-The tail end of their prime. As a result, Escape Plan indeed features a fight between the both of them, but it’s very understated and quickly broken up. That’s a shame. If they had done this movie 15-20 years ago, that fight would have been …epic.
Additionally, I really wanted more screen time out of Sam Neill, who again plays a Doctor (as he did in one of my favorite sci-fi horror films). He is a very capable actor and his role should have been so much more.
Side note: One of the previews featured before the film itself was for the next installment in Marvel’s Thor franchise. The actor that plays Sly’s business partner in Escape Plan, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, is questionably the original onscreen Thor.
Escape Plan definitely has it’s cliched action moments that were highly predictable between the two main actors. There are slow turn shots, one-liners, and Arnold grabbing a huge gun and terminating everyone on sight. I decided to watch the film at the early bird matinee 10:45am. That’s seven dollars. I feel the value there was just right and wouldn’t pay much more than that. Of course I’m sneck poor so, I usually go to the early bird showings anyway. Take that as you will.
If you’re not an action movie fan, you may best pass on viewing Escape Plan.
Instead you may get more out of this for free.