Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are like two ships passing in the night. The two have wanted to work together in film for many years, but their schedules would just never line up. Plus, it didn’t help that Arnold had to do that Governor thing to do. But now, in their mid-sixties, the two are starring in the ultimate buddy movie and it was worth the wait.
While “Escape Plan” has its flaws and might have been better suited for the summer season, it is pretty impressive. These guys are old enough to be your grandfathers, but they can still take you down. There’s no Oscar buzz for this film and the writing isn’t from Shakespeare, but it is an entertaining ride, if not odd mix of players.
Ray Breslin (Stallone) is a genius. His “job” is to sneak his way into heavy security prisons, find their flaws and then break out. He then reports how he did it to the powers that be in order to improve their structures. (What would drive a free man to want to spend his life in prisons? This question is asked throughout the film, and the story gives an answer, but even so, I couldn’t understand why.) Breslin’s latest project is a top secret, high-tech facility called “The Tomb” that is hidden from the outside world. Typically Breslin gets outside help from his office staff, Abigail (Amy Ryan) and Hush (50 Cent), but this job he finds to have…complications.
The Tomb is run by prison guards who wear black masks so that their identities are hidden and the “warden” Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) looks like a godfather who never gets his hands dirty and has no conscience at all. The cells are clear glass rather than cement block and the guards have their special ways to keep the inhabitants in line. Breslin turns to an overly-friendly guy, Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), for help with the promise that he gets to escape as well.
“Escape” has everything you want in an action flick and then some, but like the story, not everything goes according to plan. Stallone and Schwarzenegger are great together, and they even poke fun of their acting ability in the film. As mentioned, Breslin is a genius , but Rottmayer says, “You don’t look smart enough” to which Breslin replies, “Neither do you.” It would have helped having sub-titles when they are on screen at the same time. Key points to the story are missed due to the fact that the two are not that easy to understand what they are saying. Fortunately, the two do a lot more than just talk.
Ryan, a fine actress who is better suited for comedies and dramas, looks out of place here. Caviezel, known for playing the good guys (he played Jesus Christ in “The Passion” for crying out loud), is surprisingly good at being over-the-top bad. Sam Neill has a small role as a prison doctor who shouldn’t be there. The whole movie plays like a melodrama and some of the lines almost beg the audience to shout “Yay!” or “Boo!” depending on who is saying them.
There’s no heavy message to “Escape” and Swedish director, Mikael Håfström, goes out of his way to throw in enough “F-bombs” and shows that our heroes endure pain during their stay, to make the “R” rating necessary. Those sensitive that language and violence, should shy away, but you won’t lose your soul if you decide to see it. By the way, the story is NOT based on a true story.