Escape Plan (2013) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Escape Plan is exactly the kind of kick-ass, throwback that The Expendables should have been. Faithful readers will recognize my biased opinions of Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies. I grew up in the age of the action-hero/one-man-army flicks and there were no screen idols larger than these two mesomorphs. I begrudgingly gave two Expendables films modest recommendations, but that was also given with a smudge of sentimentality. There is no need for sugar-coating or coaxing here, as Escape Plan is a success on its own terms with an ideal showcase for the strengths of both its leads.

Betraying it’s low-budget early on Ray Breslin (Stallone) is shown breaking out of a high security prison using some very low tech methods. The static nature that director Mikael Håfström applies to these opening scene is troubling but he and in turn the movie find its footing once the set-up has Stallone entering a stowed away prison simply known as ‘the tomb’. Schwarzenegger is Emil Rottmayer, a mysterious prisoner and figure-head of the inmates inside the futuristic looking cell-block, patrolled by guards who resemble the police in THX-1138.

As per genre requirements, every ‘prison flick’ must come with a sadistic warden and Escape Plan supplies use with a doozy. Jim Caviezel is cast in the role occupied by Donald Sutherland in Stallone’s 1989 ‘prison flick’ Lock Up. Like Sutherland, Caviezel underplays the role with a cool intensity that suggest something far darker than ranting and raving could ever achieve. As I watch the actor who once played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, I momentarily pondered why this very talented actor never achieved bigger opportunities in Hollywood.

You go to a movie like Escape Plan looking for escapism, and this picture delivers on its intended level. If you start dissecting the plot turns and details behind the escape attempts then things begin to break down. Vincent Canby once wrote, “Plausibility counts only when audiences don’t like a movie.”, I can’t think of another film that this so aptly applies to.

Director: Mikael Håfström
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel

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