Image: Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate
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. Did that sentence immediately fill you with glee? If not, then Escape Plan isn’t for you.
Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a man employed by security agencies to infiltrate prisons and then break out 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 cell mate 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 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 co-stars have and fully plays up to it, clichés and sly references abound-ing.
Yet that’s not to say it’s just mindless schlock. The plot, while a little loose in places, is coherent and by the end, most hanging threads have been tied up. There’s one plot twist that you will not see coming but 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 his character never has much cause to express emotion beyond ‘thinking’ and ‘angry thinking’. It’s Schwarzenegger who ultimately steals the show. It is 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’. In Es- cape 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, but it manages to be such good fun that these small issues scarcely matter.