Sunday, 6 July 2014

Escape Plan (2013)

You don't watch a movie starring Sylvester Stallone, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, and expect logic and common sense to be the top priorities. I get that, I really do. But Escape Plan, which stars both men in lead roles, is even sillier and full of plot holes than it needs to be. It's so careless that the enjoyment factor is slightly ruined.

Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a man who can escape from pretty much any prison that's been designed. He's so good at it that he's made it his job. He gets incarcerated, under a false identity. He gets out. The prison gets a report that details the weaknesses in their security. When he's offered a bumper fee, Ray allows himself to be grabbed and thrown into another prison. This time, however, things are even tougher than usual. His colleagues have no idea where he is, the prison warden (Jim Caviezel) knows of his reputation and wants to make sure that he doesn't leave, and the prison is full of transparent cells, making for a much tougher challenge. The only plus point comes in the unlikely form of a prisoner named Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger).

Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, and written by Miles Chapman and Jason Keller, this is a film that really could have had anyone behind the camera. There doesn't seem to be any individual style stamped on the thing. That's fine, however, because everything is geared towards getting Sly and Arnie working together onscreen, and that is often enough to carry the whole thing along. Yes, the two worked together on The Expendables movies, but this time around they get to do more than reel off one-liners and cash in on nostalgia.

Both of the leading men are great. They've still got it when it comes to delivering the action. I've never been a fan of Jim Caviezel - I can't think of a leading man with less charisma in the past couple of decades (well, maybe Edward Burns, but that's it) - and, while he does slightly better than usual here, this is another performance that hasn't converted me. It's a part that's crying out for Eric Roberts, of course, and Caviezel sure as hell ain't no Roberts. Faran Tahir does just fine with his part, another prisoner who ends up being important to the grand plan, and Sam Neill is great as the prison doctor, a man who tries to do his job without thinking of the bigger picture. Vincent D'onofrio, Amy Ryan and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson also do well as Sly's colleagues.

Escape Plan is entertaining. It doesn't require too much concentration, the cast have fun and you will root for Sly to win the day. It's a shame, then, that everything wasn't just tightened up ever so slightly. The details revealed to viewers that are supposed to make you think "aaahhhhhhhhh, very smart" just end up highlighting the fact that it all hinges on good fortune and other characters being blind, stupid, or both. The fact that there isn't even one great set-piece is another disappointment.

You'll be able to watch and enjoy this movie, but I don't think it's one that will end up being revisited all that much. Disposable fun, boosted by the charismatic leads.


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