Based on Arnie’s disappointing comeback in recent actioners like The Expendables and The Last Stand it was logical to fear that new release Escape Plan would consist of more endless in jokes and self-glorification. Thankfully that’s not the case and this is something of a return to form for Arnold. Sadly though, his revival has taken place within a pretty bad film- Escape Plan promises lots of guns and lots of puns but all you get is soulless dialogue and disturbingly pronounced veins.
Sylvester Stallone is Ray Breslin, a world class escapist and computer hacker who gets paid to break out of maximum security facilities and thus reveal their flaws. He is apparently authorised to use any means to achieve this, which can include but are not limited to blowing up cars and stabbing fellow inmates in the chest. Breslin’s latest assignment lands him in hot water; whisked away by masked gunmen in brutal fashion, he wakes to find himself trapped in a highly advanced complex known as ‘The Tomb’. It gets worse. Breslin soon discovers that his own book was the key reference point during the construction of this illegal facility and what’s more, someone has paid a lot of money to make sure he never leaves. Help is at hand in the form of one Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who befriends our distressed hero and agrees to assist in his escape.
Try to forget the nonsensical premise; this film is all about Arnie and Sly, who have never properly co-starred in a film until now. Their brotastic -chemistry is quite a thing, though the sheer presence of ‘Guvnor’ Schwarzenegger far outweighs that of Stallone, who is on auto-pilot as the resilient, morally incorruptible hero. No one else really matters; the maniacal Warden Hobbes (Jim Caniezel) is as one dimensional as they come and all 50 Cent does is tap some buttons on a computer to slightly alter the shape of a cube. Far and away the worst piece of casting was Vinnie Jones, whose turn as a merciless prison screw is unconvincing to the last- in my screening his every movement was met with popcorn spilling hilarity.
Escape Plan’s plot is insultingly dumb and contains more holes than a book written by Neil De Grasse Tyson. If a criminal syndicate really wanted to ‘disappear’ an enemy ‘for good’ then they would probably kill that person. They would not, arguably, pay for them to be placed into a state of the art, inescapable, billion dollar prison which was constructed by a dodgy offshoot government agency to contain the world’s most dangerous men. The film masquerades as an intelligent thriller, patting itself on the back for thinking up such ‘remarkable’ escapes- in reality they lack suspense and are oh so convenient.
A final twenty minutes of gun toting madness which recall the glory days of classics like Rambo and Commando kick things up a notch but it proves too little, too late. An overall lack of action coupled with an awful script will leave you feeling unfulfilled…but still glad that Arnie came back.