Theatrical Review: Escape Plan

Ray Breslin is the foremost authority on maximum security incarceration in the world. His security company is a private contractor to the United States government that’s used to check out the overall security of those facilities. How they do this is that Ray himself is inserted as a convict in the prison and then he immediately starts to plan his escape. He’s a master at this and now the CIA is asking for his help in evaluating their newest facility; designed to take the worst offenders in the world and send them away forever. Once Ray gets to this facility, he finds that it’s a completely different situation entirely, something that’s much more sinister than he’d originally thought. Ray begins to plan anew but finds he needs a little help and he gets that from a fellow inmate named Rottmayer.

This is the premise to Escape Plan, the latest in a string of films featuring 80s action stars coming back to the forefront and of course this teams two of the biggest; Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both stars have had movies out already this year; Stallone with Bullet To The Head and Schwarzenegger with The Last Stand and I certainly thought both were a lot of fun (though I preferred The Last Stand a little more), but I think Escape Plan trumps them both… this is a really good time at the theatre.

Now of course, it’s terrific to see two of the biggest iconic action stars teamed in a movie together, and I know I certainly enjoyed seeing these guys together in the Expendables films. It’s especially fun when you can get them together in a movie with a premise like this. I think Escape Plan has a pretty darn good and tightly plotted story that looks great and takes it’s time to unfold everything thanks to director Mikael Håfström. Now, that’s not necessarily saying this is the most original of stories that you’ll see but it is really well put together and it’s at least apparent to me that Stallone and Schwarzenegger are having a good time playing off of each other.

And of course, that’s the main reason most would be going to see this, at least in my estimation, and certainly both guys are rock-solid here, with me giving just a little more of a nod to what Schwarzenegger does here. Schwarzenegger particularly shines in a fantastic scene where Ray and Rottmayer have worked out a plan so that Ray can actually get on the outside of the holding facility. During this scene, Schwarzenegger’s Rottmayer is being tortured and he slips into speaking in German and it’s probably some of the most natural line delivery I’ve ever seen on Schwarzenegger’s part.

Both actors have a lot of nice support here. Person of Interest’s (one of the best shows on TV today), Jim Caviezel gets to step out of his normal heroic role and play sadistic warden of this mystery facility, Hobbes, and he look like he’s lapping it up. Vinnie Jones plays Hobbes’ head guard, Drake and again, he’s just matching Caviezel with his zeal for the part. Character actor Faran Tahir is a Muslim inmate named Javed who ends up being an ally of Ray’s and Rottmayer’s and he’s certainly got the chops to go toe-to-toe with Stallone and Schwarzenegger any day of the week (Stallone should look at getting him into the Expendables films). Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Caitrona Balfe round out the rest of the main cast, and again, it’s just solid work and especially satisfying to see guys like Neill and D’Onofrio here, who certainly go a long way to grounding this story.

Like I said, I had a great time with Escape Plan and have no trouble recommending it here at all. It’s terrific to see Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwazenegger play off of each other and especially so with this type of story. Sure, both stars are certainly showing their age (I should look that good when I get to their ages), but as far as I’m concerned, that just adds further to the flavor of their performances and I can’t wait to see what more they still have in store for us down the road.