Student sets out to review everything in existence. Fails miserably.
If you’ve been in two minds about whether or not you want to go and see Escape Plan, allow me to conduct a simple test:
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone break out of a maximum-security prison together.
If that sentence didn’t immediately fill you with a child-like glee, then Escape Plan probably isn’t going to be the film for you.
Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a man who is employed by security agencies to infiltrate prisons and then break out in order to test their security. However, when he’s given the job of breaking out of ‘The Tomb’ (an off the record private prison designed to hold the worst of humanity), he quickly finds himself facing a bigger challenge than he thought. With the rules of the game changed and a psychotic warden to contend with, Breslin must enlist the help of his cellmate Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) if he is to stand any chance of getting out.
Modern action films tend to fall into one of two camps; either they take themselves far too seriously or they’re so dumb you can feel your brain deleting cookies as you watch them. Some unlucky films actually manage to be both. Escape Plan, however, is a different kind of beast; light and tongue-in-cheek enough to be amusing, while also stepping up the tension and excitement when necessary. This is a film that’s aware of the action prestige its two stars have and fully plays up to it, with clichés and sly references abound. However, that’s not to say that it’s mindless schlock. The plot, while a little loose in places, is actually coherent and by the end, most hanging threads have been tied up satisfactorily. Furthermore, I can guarantee there will be one plot twist that you will not see coming, and what’s even better is that it makes perfect sense.
As far as acting is concerned, Escape Plan isn’t always perfect; a few oddly-delivered lines slip through, and there’s no danger of suddenly finding a well of hidden talent in the vicinity of Vinnie Jones. Stallone puts up a surprisingly good performance, although it must be said that his character never has much cause to express emotion beyond ‘thinking’ and ‘angry thinking’. Schwarzenegger, however, ultimately steals the show. It’s always interesting to track Arnie’s development as an actor, starting off as he did playing such varied roles as ‘muscular Germanic barbarian’ and ‘muscular Germanic robot’, and in Escape Plan, he’s arguably at his prime. What’s more, you can tell that he’s having so much fun with the material that it’s hard not to be swept along.
All things considered, Escape Plan is an entertaining film that has the potential to become a cult classic in years to come. Yes, it isn’t perfect, and it’s unlikely to raise your IQ upon viewing, but it manages to be such good fun that these small issues scarcely seem to matter.