Action fans have waited decades for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone to team-up, sure they shared the screen in The Expendables movies, but they were only the hors d’œuvre – Escape Plan is the main meal. It’s a retro-tinged actioner that should satisfy fans of the beefy duo.
Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a man who makes a living breaking out of prisons as a way of showing their weaknesses. Breslin is hired to find the flaws in a new high security prison intended for the world’s worst unmentionables – but once he’s in, he discovers that the prison was built using the framework that he himself created. It’s inescapable and somebody doesn’t want him out. Whilst inside, Breslin hooks-up with Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), a charismatic inmate who also suffers from chronic male-pattern badness. The duo plot their escape, hoping the evil warden Hobbs (Jim Caviezel) doesn’t discover their plan.
Escape Plan (formally known as The Tomb) plays like testosterone-fuelled version of The Shawshank Redemption – but Arnold and Sly don’t have to worry about ‘the sisters’ at shower time. The pair have great chemistry (on screen and off) and Mikael Håfström’s film is the perfect showcase for that. While Stallone plays things straight and sombre, Schwarzenegger really lets loose. The Last Stand showed that the Austrian Oak has grown as a performer following his time in politics – but he’s a true revelation in Escape Plan. He not only delivers a great Schwarzenegger performance, but a great performance full-stop. If this is a sign of things to come then the next stretch of his career could be really interesting.
Jim Caviezel appears to relish playing the film’s bad-guy. It’s been a while since someone played a classic cinematic villain and it’s good to see the artist, formally known as Jesus, having a good time. He even has an evil sidekick (in the form of Vinnie Jones) that he uses to intimidate our heroes. It’s a disappointment though that Sam Neill is sidelined as the prison’s doctor. Neill is too good to be wasted in a few short scenes where he patches up Stallone and sends an email.
If you look too closely at the plot for Escape Plan you would probably find a million plot holes – but this isn’t a movie designed for cinematic deconstruction – it’s designed for cinematic destruction. Although, while Stallone and Schwarzenegger punch and shoot their through much of the film’s running time, but they also find time to…talk and many of the film’s best moments come from the pair simply conversing.
The special features of this blu-ray perfectly augment the movie. It’s a shame that we have to settle for a commentary from writer Miles Chapman and director Mikael Håfström when we could have had a chat-track with Arnold and Sly (surely that would have been a classic), however it is worth your time. The disc also has some enjoyable documentaries with plenty of chats from the film’s muscular stars as well as deleted scenes – one which explains why Stallone hits like a vegetarian. Good stuff.