Sometimes no matter how much you wish for something, it doesn't necessarily mean that it should come true. Two action icons of the 1980's join forces for what is technically the third time but the first as headliners as "Escape Plan" is cut from the classic action film handbook but fails in the execution as it really doesn't know if it is coming or going.
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone), the world's foremost authority on structural security, agrees to take on one last job: breaking out of an ultra-secret, high-tech facility called "The Tomb. But when he is wrongly imprisoned, he must recruit fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to help devise a daring, nearly impossible plan to escape from the most protected and fortified prison ever built.
While so many elements of this film have potential and come so close to working, this film ultimately fails in a lack of execution as the material never maxes out its potential. Director Mikael Hafstrom has worked on some half decent pot-boilers like "1408" and "The Rite" and keeps the story moving reasonably well but the script fails in so many areas. Never knowing if it is coming or going, writers Miles Chapman and Jason Keller whose previous credits include "Road House 2" and "Mirror Mirror" seemingly flip flop between a campy action romp, to a film taking itself far too seriously at times, back to a rompy action movie. There's a healthy chunk in the middle that plays as a straight prison break movie which allows us to appreciate some little stuff like the set and art design of the film, but the beginning and the end are so sloppy that any good will generated by a watchable middle act is pretty well burned away. With what is actually a fairly loaded ensemble these actors are either uninspired, miscast or just have a huge uphill battle to make this mess that may have gone through the editing bay quite a few times seem at all passable.
Stallone is quite honestly on auto-pilot on this one, as he wears the look of a man who figured out a little too late that this project just wasn't very good. Schwarzenegger to his credit is actually trying and tries to have a little bit of fun in the prison break out story. Jim Caviezel gets to ham it up as the prison warden well enough to the point that he may have even watch Donald Sutherland's performance in the last Stallone prison movie "Lock Up" from 1989. However 50 "Curtis Jackson" Cent as a thug, ex-con computer hacker might be one of the worst casting choices of the entire year, while the likes of Amy Ryan, Vinnie Jones and Sam Neill who is around strictly as a plot point have nothing to do, while from the first frame that Vincent D'Onofrio appears on screen he just screams shifty, telegraphing some major plot points. Stallone have enough chemistry and charisma on their own to carry a film, but the material just lets everyone down.
If you're going to make your action movie some good old rompy fun, then commit to it. If you're going to try and make it a serious and intense tale, then commit to it. "Escape Plan" could have been fun or it could have been interesting and well done, but it suffers from a major lack of commitment as it never embraces one style or another...and it all ends up as a fairly unwatchable mess.
1 out of 5 stars.
"Escape Plan" is now playing at theatres all across the country, please check with your local listings for show times.