“You hit like a vegetarian!”
Finally. Schwarzenegger and Stallone in a movie together. Sure, they were in The Expendables together but not for very long and those movies, however awesome, were basically a big joke anyway. This is the first time we’ve seen them properly together, kicking ass together, and they’ve never been better. Unlike a lot of the more recent big screen outings starring the 80’s action heroes, such as the disappointing Sabotage, Grudge Match or Bullet to The Head, Escape Plan actually feels like a throwback to the 80’s and the films that inspired it as well as being a genuinely unique and fresh feeling film.
The film’s main character is Stallone’s Ray Breslin whose job is to be hired to be locked away in maximum security prisons and escape from them. The reason behind why he is willing to spend most of his life in prison is revealed across the course of the film but the main action comes when, on what seems like a routine job, he is sent to the maximum-ist security prison ever. And what a coincidence, turns out the Warden (Jim Caviezel) designed it to the specifications in Breslin’s book on un-escapable prisons. In the prison Breslin meets a colourful collection of fellow inmates including the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays Rottmayer. The two men form a friendship and work on trying to escape together meeting other characters along the way such as Sam Neill’s prison Doctor with a conscience, Vinnie Jones’ evil henchman and Faran Tahir as a fellow prisoner who perhaps has the most bad ass scene in recent action movie memory. In fact, the whole film is full of moments that will make any die hard action fan squeal with delight, such as when Stallone utters a bad ass line before killing a baddie, or when Arnie picks up a giant machine gun and guns down a hundred faceless henchmen all in delightful slow motion. Others may find this sort of stuff boring or overly violent, but screw them, this is a proper action film, a throwback to the 80’s heyday.
Escape Plan is also well directed, something not all modern action films can claim to be. Mikael Håfström, who before Escape Plan directed the underrated John Cusack horror/thriller 1408, directs the action clearly and manages to to put his personal stamp on the film as well with some great shots. Not much else can be said of the films two main stars, they are the same, awesome action heroes from the 80’s and they seem to be really enjoying themselves. Sam Neill is also great in the film, although he is perhaps underused; appearing in the film for less than 10 minutes. The real stand out in the film though, is Caviezel as Warden Hobbs. A classic ‘bad guy’ with a weird voice, a strange hobby, a thuggish henchman and (SPOILER) an awesome, over the top death.
The Bottom Line: Escape Plan is an easy recommendation to action film fans, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of the prison break or thriller genre either. It’s not going to win any awards, but achieves what it sets out to do perfectly; Escape Plan is a brilliantly stupid, stupidly brilliant throwback to the 80’s and I wouldn’t want a film starring both Stallone and Schwarzenegger to be any other way.
Reviewed By Tom