Raising the Bars – A review of Escape Plan

Fists fly hard and fast in the thriller Escape Plan featuring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger
Fists fly hard and fast in the thriller Escape Plan featuring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Title: Escape Plan

Production Company: Summit Entertainment

Run Time: 116 minutes

Rated: R

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Amy Ryan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, 50 Cent

3 stars for Escape Plan

Summary: Okay, forget the Oscar caliber dialogue, acting and special effects. If you’re just looking for a popcorn chomping good time, leave your brain at home and just enjoy this movie for what it is.

Sly Stallone is a professional prison escape artist? I like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s response: “You don’t look that smart”.

Those are the types of quips, though, that we’ve come to expect from both of these two muscleheads over the years. And the barbs fly fast and furiously here.

Stallone is recruited to break out of a prison that is designed to be virtually escape proof. I say virtually because you know that the heroes will succeed. (Just once, I’d like to see them fail but what am I thinking? Hollywood knows that ending will never sell.)

The difference between this movie and usual muscle-bound fare we normally see from these two is that there actually is a true sense of suspense and – surprisingly – a fairly decent plot.

Jim Caviezel, who has made some dicey career choices in the past, plays the warden who helped design this prison with more than a few twists that one might not expect. The cells themselves are remarkably claustrophobic despite being glass walled and open for all the world to see.

Even Babylon, the main gathering area within the prison has open containment. The only place the prisoners get any solitude is in lockdown, and the conditions there are rather barbaric. It’s amazing that the ACLU wasn’t screaming about this place. Of course, it’s off the grid and that’s supposed to explain everything.

As you can imagine, there is plenty of fighting and the usual gallon or two of blood to be spilled along the way.

My only real disappointment here is the predictability of the story. About 40 minutes into the film, if you haven’t figured out where this is going, you need to get out more. I’ve had tougher times figuring out the movie of the week on TNT.

But this isn’t a movie about plausibility. It isn’t about highbrow plots dealing with finances and pick-pocketing or magical feats of daring-do. This is a chance for audiences to see their two favorite muscle-bound heroes tangling with one another yet again.

Vincent D’Onofrio, always a solid actor, lends his talents to the role of Stallone’s business partner and 50 Cent and Amy Ryan are two of his co-workers who help set him up as he willingly interjects himself into these prison environments without plausible hope of escape.

There isn’t as much testosterone here as there is, for example, in The Expendables, but when the fists start flying, you can safely predict exactly where they’ll land. And that’s exactly what makes this movie as fun as it is.

I give Escape Plan 3 out of 5 stars

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