With the success of The Expendables, it isn't surprising that there are more and more movies combining some of our favorite all-time action heroes hitting theaters regularly. And while they seem to be a mixed bag as far as being more than a novelty, Escape Plan was perfectly great in the way that mindless action movies should be. Filled with more fistfights than CGI, with ample tough guy talk and with a little bit of humor, this was a satisfying prison break.
Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a guy who specializes in breaking out of prisons in order to show the powers that be the flaws within the system. When we open he's in jail, and starting fights to get thrown into solitary, which he leverages to his advantage. A few minutes in and you've got punches being thrown, a prison break and a car exploding. After he's re-arrested, he kindly explains to the warden all of the things that are wrong, and how easy it was for him to find a way out. Well, as long as his team (Amy Ryan and 50 Cent) are on hand on the outside to pass coded messages to.
But once he's back to his gorgeous and spacious office (which seems unnecessary for a guy who spends the bulk of his life confined to a small cell), his business partner Lester Clark (Vincent D'Onofrio) has a high-paying offer from the CIA. They want him to test out an off-the-grid prison where they put despicable criminals who they want to permanently stay imprisoned. But it's so secretive that Abigail (Ryan) and his tech genius Hush (yes, that's really the role that is being played by 50 Cent) can't even know where it is located. In case of emergency he's given the warden's name and a special code, and Abigail and Hush shoot him with a tracking device for safe keeping.
Of course he's picked up by an unmarked van, has the tracking device cut out of him and is drugged. When he wakes up he finds that he's in a jail made out of glass and metal with guards who are masked and with constant surveillance cameras. On his first meeting with Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), he tries to use his emergency code (he did just see another guy beaten and tossed out of a plane after all), but Hobbes gleefully tells him that's not going to happen.
So he's stuck in jail and nearly made someone's bitch, until he meets Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who befriends him. Together they come up with a plan to try and escape, but their first attempt is quickly thwarted when Breslin gets out and discovers that they are on a giant tanker floating in the middle of the ocean. They have to come up with another plan, which involves enlisting the help of the ship doctor (Sam Neill) and cleverly outsmarting Hobbes and his mostly anonymous (with the exception of Vinnie Jones who doesn't don a mask) crew.
It moves at a pretty good clip, and if you don't stop to quibble about details its fine. Otherwise you start wondering how they are having these not-very-whispered conversations out in the open about breakouts without the guards hearing (at one point they are about four inches from a guard), or how Breslin and Rottmayer can take out a host of train armed guards with one shot, or how there aren't random pat-downs on prisoners as they are taken out of the doctor's office. Or, most importantly, how much of Stallone's dialogue can be mumbled before they just give him a character who grunts?
And we'd like to have seen more of Ryan or Neill, but they are relegated to very minimal roles. Instead, and probably as it should be, Sly and Arnie are at the crux of this movie. They work well together, and there are some winks and nods to their prior box office successes, and Schwarzenegger specifically gets some very comical moments. Caviezel isn't the strongest link here, his villain comes off as one big uncomfortable cliché, but he's serviceable in the role. If you are expecting Shawshank Redemption, lower your expectations, but if you just want an entertaining way to spend a few hours, this should fit the bill.
Get showtimes and tickets for this movie from Fandango.
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