Escape Plan 2: Hades was a cinematic abomination, a woeful black mark on the career of Sylvester Stallone. The Steven C. Miller sequel to the enjoyable 2013 actioner was cheap and nasty, a visual void with a sleepwalking Stallone collecting a paycheque for a film that was only made to hoodwink a Chinese audience into parting with their cash. Escape Plan 3: The Extractors also has its eye on the Chinese market but this third instalment is much better than its predecessor. This time around Stallone parachuted-in his friend and sometime collaborator John Herzfeld to co-write and direct the sequel and this time around it feels like an actual film – a miracle considering it has 30 listed producers!
Escape Plan 3: The Extractors sees Stallone’s Ray Breslin breaking into a Soviet Block prison in order to rescue his girlfriend (Jaime King) and the kidnapped daughter of Chinese businessman. They’re held captive by Devon Sawa, the aggrieved son of Breslin’s former partner. Helping Stallone is Zhang Jin, Harry Shum Jr and big Dave Bautista – three badasses who know how to deliver bone-crunching action.
This third instalment of the Escape Plan franchise has a rather modest budget and while the majority of the film takes place in aircraft hangers, warehouses and a dilapidated prison. John Herzfeld and cinematographer Jacques Jouffret try their best to open up the scope with the use of drones, interesting angles and light and shade. The action is also well staged and the performances are pretty well honed for this type of rough and tumble thriller. The script by Herzfeld and co-writer Miles Chapman offers up a few interesting angles and Victor Reyes’ score does quite a lot to augment the drama and action – at times it is reminiscent of the late, great Michael Kamen.
Sylvester Stallone is 72 years old and the action icon can still pull off physical action. He might not do as much as his co-stars but it’s still impressive stuff nonetheless. This bodes well for the upcoming Rambo: Last Blood, the supposed final instalment of the Rambo franchise and the long mooted fourth Expendables movie. Not bad for a man in his 70s!
Rough, tough and surprisingly dark, Escape Plan 3: The Extractors has much to recommend. It’s far from perfect but it’s infinitely better than Escape Plan 2. This time around Sylvester Stallone is engaged with the material and his co-stars also deliver. It’s not a perfect film though. Some of the plot points are a little contrived and character motivations stretch credulity a bit, but it manages to tick all the right boxes for a low budget action movie.
The poor quality of Escape Plan 2 meant that I went into Escape Plan 3: The Extractors with serious trepidation, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun this turned out to be. It’s worth a watch.
Escape Plan 3 is in Cinemas 5 July and DVD & Digital HD on 19 August