Escape Plan – Review

Imagine if the year was 1990 and you heard that a new movie was coming out which co-starred Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It would have been unbelievable.  The two biggest action movie stars, the two who defined the entire genre, were more rivals than anything else.  They each starred in their own movies and both found plenty of success.  Times have definitely changed, because although both actors are probably 20-30 years past their physical prime, they are costars of the newly released Escape Plan directed by Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom.

The circumstances which have brought them together both as friends in real life and as costars involve the overall declining popularity of raw action movies.  A few years ago Sylvester Stallone pinpointed one of the reasons for the decline to the invention of “velcro muscles.”  Nevertheless, Escape Plan promised to give old-school action movie fans the onscreen duo they always wished for.

The film centers around Sly Stallone’s character who is a co-owner of a company involved with helping heighten prison security.  His role in this business is to assume the role of a convict, live in the prison as a prisoner, and figure out how to escape so that the prison can learn its weaknesses and shore up its security holes.  After a successful and routine breakout from your run of the mill prison, an attorney representing the CIA shows up with an offer.  They are interested in employing his services at one of their secret prisons which house ‘terrible’ people who are locked away forever without any due process.

Something goes wrong and no one at his company knows where he is and everyone at the prison thinks he is just a regular prisoner.  Now he is stuck forever in a prison that was constructed using the book he wrote on how to make prisons that are impossible to break out of.  He turns to fellow inmates, one of whom is played by Schwarzenegger, to devise an escape plan.

On a raw, entertaining level the film is enjoyable.  Having Schwazenegger and Stallone costar is a lot of fun and they even break out in a fist fight at one time.  There’s plenty of action and excitement, but the film once again fails to bring the genre to the 21st century.  Roughly 30 seconds after introducing each character, you can pretty accurately guess their future role and fate.  The bad guys are obviously fishy from the start.  Those who you presume to be cannon fodder fail to live to the end of the film.  One of main antagonists is played by Jim Caviezel and he seems to be one of those types that always struggles to play a convincing villain.

It’s a shame that things couldn’t be better because it would be great to see more old-school action films come out.  As it stands now, it looks like only the major, established franchises will find much success on domestic soil.  Stallone has got his established Expendables franchise and Arnold has a new Conan film and another Terminator due out sometime in the future and those are sure to be fun, exciting, and make lots of money, but a world with no new stories to tell is not a fun world at all.



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