On paper, Escape Plan looks like a winner of an action picture. Put Stallone and Schwarzenegger in a prison escape film and watch the sparks fly as they try to escape. Sounds good, right? Well, in theory it should be the most awesome team up since The Expendables. In practice, though, we get a fairly by the numbers action film that commits the greatest sin imaginable for a film starring not one but two of the worlds greatest action icons . . .it is boring.
Ray Breslin is a security specialist contracted to attempt prison escapes. Basically, the prisons pay him to be locked up and see if he can escape. When he is contracted by the government to be locked up in a prison that is off the grid, i.e. not sanctioned, he finds that he is out of contact with his team and Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) doesn’t know who he is. He then enlists the aid of Emil Rottmayer to help him escape from the prison.
While this may sound like the bees knees of action films, be warned that it is actually boring and there is nothing here we haven’t seen before. While both Stallone and Schwarzenegger are still looking damned good for their age, not even their muscles can power through the one thing that will bring these brutes to their knees . . .a poor script and generic direction. This film could be one of many others, not the least of which that popped to mind was Stallone’s own Lock-Up.
Stallone’s Rambo and Rocky Balboa road on the coattails of nostalgia, with decent scripts directed deftly by Stallone himself, and the original The Expendables attempted something different by adding in every aging action star imaginable. Schwarzenegger went the old school route with the unappreciated The Last Stand, and I feel it was a welcome return to form for the former Governator. Escape Plan brings to mind the older films they both starred in that were not so good but remembered more fondly than they deserve. Commando. Cobra. Conan the Destroyer. Those are just the C’s. I don’t think this film will be fondly remembered in thirty years. It will be forgotten.
Hell, I just watched it and I am already forgetting plot points. To be honest, I was so bored my mind started wandering. Yes, I watched the movie all the way through. Of course, it kind of lost me when Stallone created a sextant out of paper, eyeglasses, and an ink pen a la MacGuyver. Of course, it took that long to lose me. By that point, I had seen him break rivets with a drain screen and high power light-bulbs, climb two to four stories and back in 5 minutes while not being spotted, and slip into the back of a car while dressed as a fireman (and he wasn’t spotted that time either). Yeah, the film is silly and no, it is not as much fun as I am trying to make this review.
Escape Plan is a missed opportunity. Bland direction and a weak script deliver a film that I cannot describe as anything other than ‘blah’. It is not a terrible film. It is not a great film. It is stuck firmly in the middle, and as such, quickly becomes forgettable. It is not bad enough to laugh at, and it’s not good enough to ever watch again. The film should have kept it’s original title of ‘The Tomb’, because at least then it would have had a cool title to go with the bland film.
** out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- Domestic gross total of $25,132,228 m on an unknown production budget. Worldwide gross of $137,324,564.
- Director Mikael Håfström has a habit of turning interesting ideas into boring, if not terrible, films. He directed the forgettable 1408, and the ungodly awful (pun intended) The Rite.