Judge David Johnson had no escape plan to get out of watching this movie.
No one breaks out alone.
Stallone. Schwarzenegger. Boredom.
Facts of the Case
Ray Breslin (Stallone, The Expendables) is the best in the business at what he does: breaking out of prisons. He gets himself inserted into the most secure penal institutions and putting their security to the ultimate test. His success rate scores him the mother of break-out jobs: beating the most secure black-bag prison ever created. But once he lands behind bars, the tables turn and he's left to his own devices. With a sadistic warden (Jim Caviezel, Person of Interest) applying huge amounts of pain and pressure, Ray's escape becomes solely about self-preservation. But to pull off the impossible he'll have to lean on a new friend in lockup: Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Stand).
If this movie was announced fifteen years ago, it would have been one of the greatest pop culture events my tiny brain would have processed. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, titans of the hard-R action genre, cast together in a blockbuster prison escape movie!
If only that were the case in 2014. Now, it is a sad truth that these two have exhausted enough badass cred to keep the margin for error in a film they're occupying next to zero. Escape Plan better be cool, because as decently fit as these 60 year-olds may be, the ship has sailed when their star-power could pack a theater. And this is coming from a man whose formative years were spent in the loving embrace of these two ventilating communists with machine guns the size of Volvos.
But that's reality. Escape Plan stinks. It's overlong, needlessly complicated, packed with wafer-thin cardboard characters, and way way too dull for its own good.
Why put these two guys in the film if the focus is on line-reading? Stallone and Schwarzenegger's characters could have easily been portrayed by any actor, regardless if they were in Predator or not. Put Mario Lopez and Bob Saget in there and I'm confident you're not missing a whole lot when it comes to acting prowess. Stallone mixes it up a bit, but the much of his screen time is spent grimacing and banging his head against the wall in solitary. Schwarzenegger? Talks a lot during lunchtime.
Fine, to be fair they do dip their toes into the halcyon days of gunslinging at the very end, but it's limited; some slow-motion trigger-pulling and a leap on a CGI helicopter. Treasure those fleeting moments, though, as they represent the majority of the mayhem. It is, of course, the big break-out (that's not a spoiler), the culmination of the slow burn which, frankly, is a grind.
And that's the most frustrating point, If you want to sell me a prison break film with tow action icons, fine, I guess. I can swap red meat skull-crushing action for a smart, shrewd thriller, but the "escape plan" in Escape Plan leaves much to be desired. Why the warden—who knows Ray's skills and reputation—doesn't just keep him locked up in solitary for perpetuity is never explained. As far as I can tell, the brilliant plan involves Stallone running like crazy, unleashing a few punches, then shooting dead a bunch of guards that may or may not be regular blue-collar workers just trying to put food on the table. Blah.
Soak up the blah with a tight A/V treatment: an attractive 2.40:1/1080p transfer is joined by a rare and appreciated DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix, which pumps out the craziness with pop (when there is craziness). Extras include a director's commentary, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and segments on real-life prisons and the Stallone/Schwarzengger tandem, as well as standard def DVD and HD digital copies of the film.
That prison sequence in Face/Off? Superior.
Guilty. Back to prison.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Summit Entertainment
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