Synopsis: Ray Breslin (Stallone) has designed some of the most high-tech, escape-proof prisons in the world. When Breslin takes the fall for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s locked up in a penitentiary of his own making. Desperate to prove his innocence but unable to accomplish his goal from the inside, Breslin puts his professional know-how to use by planning the ultimate prison break. Meanwhile, as tensions among the convicts start to flare, strict warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) enlists lead guard Drake (Vinnie Jones) to maintain order as mysterious inmate Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) fights to prevent the prisoners from turning on one another.
Release Date: October 18, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Thriller
When sitting down for a movie called Escape Plan, about a man who literally escapes from prisons for a living, one expects two things: what appears to be an inescapable prison and a complex plan to prove its creators wrong. However, when that movie includes Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as its leads, all of that gets thrown out the window.
Escape Plan has a pretty solid foundation on which to work. The idea of an escape artist plotting to break out of a prison so escape-proof it is nicknamed “The Tomb” has its own appeals. Unfortunately, the film caters too much to its stars instead of its subject matter, and as a result it suffers. Escape Plan spends too much time basking in the limelight of its veiny headliners than it does anything else.
There are some tangible nuggets of intrigue peppered throughout the movie – figuring out why Stallone’s character, Ray Breslin, was brought to The Tomb and how Schwarzenegger’s character, Harry Rotmeyer, fits into that plan – but those are mostly surface level details. The plot, which includes its fair share of twists, many of which rely on some truly faulty logic or exist purely because “twists are fun,” is pretty threadbare overall. Stallone doesn’t concoct a particularly interesting plan, and, for that matter, the escape eventually devolves into a mixture of gunfire and flying fists, as the two leads brute force their way out of the prison clearing any obstacles in their path.
On either side of the Stallone/Schwarzenegger dichotomy is a diverse supporting cast of actors, some of whom embrace the B-movie nature of Escape Plan, while others could care less about giving more than the minimum. Jim Caviezel, for example, plays the prison’s warden with tons of little quirks and an inflection that would make Christopher Walken jealous, while Amy Ryan and Vincent D’Onofrio seem almost completely disinterested in breathing life into their characters. Granted, they’re not the focal point of the film, but each member of the supporting cast seems to have a different feeling about the movie’s intent and tone.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Escape Plan‘s main draw: the on-screen reunion of Stallone and Schwarzenegger. The film certainly plays up the two aged action stars’ off-screen chemistry, even though they are supposed to be playing “characters.” And, for the most part, their interplay will please any fan, even if it is overly trite and always shoots for the common denominator. It’s almost like Escape Plan is the movie Sly and Arnold should have made 30 years ago, not the one they made in 2013. They never acknowledge each other’s age, and for all intents and purposes they are two 20-year-old meatheads comparing biceps in the weight room.
While that idea is all well and good, the fact of the matter is Escape Plan wants it both ways: it wants audiences to cheer at the very “Schwarzenegger” moments, but it also wants them to believe Stallone is Ray Breslin, a prison escape artist. So, while Stallone’s character is set-up as a blunt weapon capable of out-dueling most inmates in a fight, he’s also able to craft a sextant out of a pen, a piece of cardboard backing, and a pair of glasses like some sort of machismo-filled MacGyver. For the character of Breslin, that might make sense, but when Stallone wears the character like a thin veil, winking and nodding that it’s really him all along, it just doesn’t work.
Escape Plan may be the campy Stallone/Schwarzenegger reunion that those two stars’ fan bases hope it will be, but it’s little more than that. A story that fails to capitalize on its admittedly promising premise, action that’s dull and uninspired, and supporting performances that chart all over the radar hold Escape Plan back from being a truly memorable reunion for Rambo and the Terminator. Ultimately, your feelings about Escape Plan‘s two leads now, not 30 years ago, should guide your decision over whether or not to see this film.
Say what you will about the quality of the story, the performances, or even the filmmaking, a lot of moviegoers will dive headfirst into Escape Plan in the hopes of seeing some quality action from two of the genre’s biggest names. Unfortunately, in a film set within an impenetrable prison, there isn’t much room for exciting, let alone original action sequences. Not to mention, both Schwarzenegger and Stallone are pushing 70, which leaves little room for the actors to do…anything.
Yes, there’s the requisite Sly vs. Arnold fight, and each of the actors gets one, key action moment in the film – sensationalized by slow-motion and overly dramatic music, of course – but overall Escape Plan lacks any sort of punch. Bland can be interesting when it’s Stallone and Schwarzenegger, but that doesn’t mean the action is any less flat.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Mikael Hafstrom
- Screenwriter(s): Miles ChapmanJason Keller
- Cast: Sylvester Stallone (Breslin)Arnold Schwarzenegger (Rottmayer)Jim Caviezel (Hobbes) Faran Tahir (Javed)Amy Ryan (Abigail)Sam Neill (Dr. Kyrie)
- Cinematographer: Brendan Galvin
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Alex Heffes
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA