22
Aug
15

Escape Plan is the 1980s Most Disappointing Dream Come True

Escape Plan is the movie the 1980s desperately wanted, but, sadly, came about 30 years too late. I’m talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone finally teaming up. They did briefly team up in The Expendables 2, but that doesn’t count because Arnold’s role was pretty small. Here, though, they share the screen equally, playing off one another, and finally bringing a team up that has been decades in the making.
Unfortunately, if they had been waiting 30 years for “the right script,” this one wasn’t it. Now, don’t get me wrong, Escape Plan isn’t really a bad film, but it isn’t the 1980s wet dream/action star team-up movie we’ve all desperately waited for. No, it’s one of those films that actors do just to pay the bills.
For having the two biggest 1980s action stars as the leads, there is surprisingly little action in this film. The movie is a prison escape film. Generally, those kinds of movies work on building suspense and have very few fights, explosions, shootouts, etc. Right off the bat, this movie is not playing to the strengths of its two lead actors.

So, how do you make a prison escape film where you root for guys to escape? They’re in prison, after all, so they must be bad guys. Escape from Alcatraz did a pretty good job with Clint Eastwood, but Escape Plan goes a different route. It turns out that Stallone isn’t a bad guy at all. He plays a man who made a career on escaping from prisons as a means of pointing out the weaknesses in a prison’s security. He gets offered a job to test out the most secure (and secret) prison in the world, called The Tomb. Since he’s actually not a criminal, you want him to figure out how to escape. I thought this was actually kind of clever, and appreciated the fact the movie went the extra mile to build a backstory for the character, which most movies can’t be bothered with these days.
Once he’s in The Tomb, Stallone meets up with Schwarzenegger fairly quickly. The two muscle-heads form an alliance with plans to break out. Unfortunately for them, there are an absurd amount of plot twists and double-crosses in store to hinder their progress.
For completely inexplicable reasons, Stallone’s business partner betrays him, and deletes all the information that shows he isn’t a criminal, leaving him stranded in The Tomb with no proof that he’s a good guy. He says he does this in order to make money from some kind of poorly thought out international criminal syndicate. A syndicate who makes money on incarcerating other high-profile criminals. Why he would do this, rather than just continue to work with Stallone is mind-boggingly stupid. Stallone is the only one in the organization who does any work. His partner can literally sit back and relax (and rake in millions of dollars) while Stallone does everything. Eh, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, you just have to go with it.
It turns out there are more plot twists about Schwarzenegger’s backstory and how he has been imprisoned unfairly. He’s not really a bad guy, either, so you don’t have to worry about him ultimately escaping. Contrived as it is, this kind of stuff makes the movies seem more fleshed out, and is definitely appreciated. It’s not exactly Shakespeare, and if you think about it too much, it falls apart. However, I do like the fact that the filmmakers tried to make something a little fuller than the average action movie.
The Tomb is a prison designed by Jim Caviezel. He built his prison around all of Stallone’s recommendations to other prisons, essentially making it inescapable. It’s a cool idea. Caviezel plays a weird bad guy, though. He is very cool and collected, and is as aloof as they come. This works for a time, but at the end, when things fall apart for him, he doesn’t ever get angry. He continues to be aloof until the very end. I actually like Caviezel (especially in the great series Person of Interest), but he makes odd choices here and doesn’t portray an interesting villain.
Stallone and Schwarzenegger eventually manage to escape, which leads the film to its one action sequence. Here, we finally get the long-promised punching, explosions, and shootouts. It’s a bit “too little, too late,” and the action is fairly underwhelming. However, we finally get to see Stallone and Schwarzenegger in action in the same movie. It’s satisfying to a degree, but ultimately leaves you wanting more.
Escape Plan was a movie I enjoyed more than I should have. It’s probably out of nostalgia for my favorite 1980s actions movies. Even so, I think Escape Plan has more to offer than the typical action film. It tries to have more robust characters and more plotting than most. Some of it works, and some of it doesn’t. The prison itself was inventive, and the film manages to mount tension in an appropriate manner. The acting is pretty much exactly what you would expect from our two biggest action stars. Overall, it wasn’t great but certainly wasn’t terrible.
Verdict: Average
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8 Responses to “Escape Plan is the 1980s Most Disappointing Dream Come True”


  1. August 24, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Cheesy B-movie fun, I enjoyed it for what it was but, like a weak soda, doesn’t last long once the lid comes off.

  2. 4 gazerbeam
    August 27, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    You ever gonna review Knights of Sidonia? It’s on netflix, just 20-odd episodes. Straightfoward post-apocalpytic mechas vs aliens, but done very well and I really care about the characters (past and present). Check it out.

    • August 28, 2015 at 8:03 am

      I’ve got bad news for you. I watched one episode and dropped it. It’s not that the story was bad, but the animation style bugged the hell out of me. It was just like “Freedom.” I hate that CGI anime shit, and I couldn’t watch an entire series like that. I realize that’s petty, but with 15 years of anime watching under my belt, I really doubt I’m missing out on much.

      • 6 Gazerbeam
        August 28, 2015 at 6:31 pm

        I know exactly what you mean. The same problem kept me scrolling over 8y every time. Let me tell you a story:

        After my brother (only just acquainted to Miyazaki when it comes to anime) gave up on Eureka Seven after 2 episodes, I decided to make it 3 episodes through anything I was interested in. I can’t speak for you, but it paid off this time.

        I hated the animation intensely, as well as the way the characters have 6 inches between their eyes. You get used to it and never notice it again, I promise. You even end up liking the animation. Give it another try.

        -fan since evangelion opus

  3. December 30, 2016 at 3:13 am

    It bombed domestically only making $25.1 million. But it made up for it overseas with a $112.2 million gross ($40.9 million in China alone). That brought the worldwide total to $137.3 million.


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