Escape Plan (2013) Directed by Mikael Håfström. With Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, 50 Cent, Sam Neill and Vincent D’Onofrio.
In terms of action movies, the screen pairing of Stallone and Schwarzenegger is akin to that of Pacino and De Niro in Heat. While that might be a bit of a stretch, those of us who pumped our fists into the air at the climax of Rocky IV or took a game of ‘Lazer Quest’ that bit too seriously after a screening of Predator, could be forgiven for feeling a little pinch of excitement.
I’ll simplify the set-up: Stallone is really good at escaping from jail – so good in-fact, that he does it for a living. Then, along comes a job that requires him to escape a super maximum security prison, which of course, is managed by a bent warden (Jim Caviezel). Things go south, and together with Schwarzenegger, Sly begins to devise a very likely unlikely escape.
To say out loud “Sly & Arnie“, sounds like a kids cartoon duo, but that’d be doing a disservice to the nuanced writing sometimes found in children’s television. Sadly, Escape Plan rarely registers above a level of stupidity that, without the star names, would’ve been instantly consigned to the b-movie scrapheap, headlined by the likes of Don ‘The Dragon‘ Wilson and John Cena.
While Arnie’s accent seems even more comedic now that he’s older (he misses a glorious opportunity to say “Get to da choppa!“) – there are times when Stallone’s baritone mumblings are borderline incomprehensible. Rapper-cum-wannabe-actor, 50 Cent, plays one of the good guys – a kind of cool nerd who isn’t actually cool at all. Inexplicably, Sam Neill’s here too, popping-up in a low-key role as a prison doctor, trying his best to look interested as his mouth moves and some words come out of it.
By the final act, it fully reverts to type, just like your average 1980’s action-buddy movie, with gunfire and fisticuffs crudely replacing any kind of invention or design. Sadly, there’s no escaping the doldrums of nostalgia that Escape Plan is caged in. It’s wantonly ridiculous, and utterly predictable – even when it thinks it’s being clever. That said, with my weak-spot for Sly and Arnie in tow, I have to say that I found a few moments to smile about…even if the quality control nag of my guilty conscience kept telling me off for it. 2/5