Escape Plan (2013)
By: Devon B. on June 9, 2014 | Comments
Hopscotch | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 111 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Mikael Håfström
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vinnie Jones
Screenplay: Miles Chapmanm, Arnell Jesko
Country: USA
I don't think Escape Plan got a theatrical release in Australia. I'll be the first to admit that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have made some shitty movies, but there's no way that local audiences should be denied the opportunity to see them in action together on the big screen. This movie could've been the two of 'em playing chess for two hours and I still would've wanted the right to watch it at the cinema. We've got some potential social problems brewing in Australia, and while many are concerned about Medicare co-pays and the government's desire to remove "green tape" that delays development, I'm more worried that the unspoken rule that all Stallone/Schwarzenegger collaborations must be released theatrically has been violated. We have rights, dammit, and I want them enforced!

Another guy with rights is Stallone, who must really love gaol and gaol breaks because he keeps getting himself arrested in movies just so he can break out. But this film is different from Lock Up and Tango and Cash because this time Stallone is not a prisoner, but rather a guy that tests prison security. He gets hired to test a high-tech prison that's off the grid, but, surprise, things don't go as he hoped and he gets locked up for real. Inside he hooks up with Arnie, who also has experience breaking out of prison from The Running Man, but then he broke into a police station in The Terminator so you never really know which way Arnie's gonna go when the time comes. The two form an escape plan, which I think is probably what the title of the movie is based on.

There is no denying that the boys are looking old, but I'd say Arnie looks like he's aging more gracefully. Well, in this movie, anyway, 'cause I saw him on Graham Norton and his head looked like a pineapple that someone had turned into an animatronic Arnie doll. Stallone looks better than he did in The Expendables, and both men still exude a strong physical presence. Stallone must've been wearing high heels while filming because he isn't dwarfed by Arnie, which maybe gave him a literal boost in the physical presence area. Escape Plan is mostly about the leads, but Vinnie Jones chalks up two more action legend co-stars for his résumé, and Sam Neill does a good job not calling himself Alan Grant despite playing against dinosaurs again. 50 Cent is on hand too, so people that care about him might notice him. I didn't, but saw his name in the credits.

The prison of Escape Plan is brutal, with beatings and torture seeming routine, and there are also inmate fights, but this is less an outright action movie than a thriller. When I heard about the gargantuan pairing I was hoping for Commando meets Demolition Man, but Escape Plan is closer to Collateral Damage meets Assassins. I enjoyed it more than either of those two, but Escape Plan isn't up there with the Stallone/Arnie classic Expendables 2. Escape Plan is well made, but it has some script silliness and would've benefited from some brisker editing. Bullets do start to fly in the climax, but less patient viewers, or those not so easily distracted by the fun of a Stallone/Arnie teaming, may have faded by that point. The coda is a bit heavy handed for my tastes, but I guess there're people that need everything in movies spelled out for them.

One nice touch is that Arnie gets to speak German in one sequence, which was cool. The English SDH subs automatically kicked in after a few German lines, but annoyingly say "(SPEAKING GERMAN)" before each translation. Also some coding was left in, so I hope the proofreader got fired because it wasn't that many lines. At another point the subs popped up to tell me someone was "speaking Arabic," but I guess that dialogue was too hard to actually translate because that's all the subs say.

If the part of Face/Off where Nicholas Cage was stuck in gaol was stretched out to two hours, it might've been something like Escape Plan. The movie's not as goofy as I would've liked, but then each of our heroes gets one of the worst, laziest one liners of his respective career when the bad guy gets his comeuppance, so maybe it's a good thing that the movie's more serious. It's a decent thriller, not quite up there with either stars' 80s classics, but better than either stars' mid-to-late 90s output.
The Disc
Escape Plan looks about as good as DVD can, sharp and clear. There was a touch of edge enhancement, but otherwise the image is DVD perfection. The 5.1 mix is also high quality, crisp and clean. Dialog sound effects echo nicely within the prison interior, bullets eventually wiz and the score swells nicely. The trailer for 1 plays when the DVD starts up, and there's also a commentary, making of, a featurette about real prison, a featurette about the stars and nine minutes of deleted scenes. The commentary track is with director Mikael Håfström and co-writer Miles Chapman. They can get bogged down in the obvious, but they're good at asking each other questions about their areas of the filmmaking process to keep the discussion interesting. The making of starts with Stallone saying Escape Plan "is totally original" which I refute, but it does have some unique touches. The origins of the film are discussed, including the all-important casting, and aside from the opening comment Stallone has worthwhile things to say and as usual shows that he knows a lot about movie making. Fans of the judicial system will probably enjoy the featurette about high-security gaols, but I really didn't care about anything in this mini-doco. I much more enjoyed the featurette about the two stars coming together, and their concerns about whether they'd click on screen. That was a silly worry, because they've got real life chemistry and that comes across on film.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The film has high production values, and the giddy thrill of seeing two action icons together helped me overlook the slightly sluggish feel of the film. The DVD has a top notch transfer and some engaging extras, so even though I didn't get the chance to see Escape Plan in the theatre at least now I got to watch it in style.
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