Review: “Escape Plan”- by Dustin Brewer

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are co-headlining a move for the first time in their illustrious careers. Dustin lets you know which one of them came to play in their new film; “Escape Plan.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger deciding to go back to Hollywood after leaving political office is the best thing that’s happened to Sylvester Stallone since Rocky Balboa took him to Oscar gold.

It’s not Sly’s fault, Arnold is just simply that enigmatic and energetic a presence in movies. He always has been, and as long as he wants to do it, he always will be.

When he filmed a cameo in Stallone’s super team-up, “The Expendables,” he was still in office and the less than five minute cameo that he filmed for free and in the dead of night on a weekday managed to be all people talked about with some going so far as to protest theaters playing the film because of Arnold’s involvement.

After filming a few scenes together in “Expendables 2,” they’ve finally joined forces, both coming off disappointing runs for their stand alone films, “Bullet to the Head” (Stallone) and “The Last Stand” (Arnold) and together in “Escape Plan” one still can’t help but to compare the two throughout.

Before we get into the film though, I wanna take a second to acknowledge a trailer attached to the movie in most theaters, no it’s not the sweet Liam Neeson on a plane one, but rather, a movie starring Stallone that could be the movie of the year. I won’t say anything else about it, watch it for yourself and try to comprehend “Grudge Match.”

Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a man who specializes in being locked in high-security prisons with the task of breaking out and exposing the flaws in the prisons’ design for the way fictional sounding Federal Bureau of Prisons. In the opening scenes we’re shown Breslin’s prowess and skill as he MacGuyvers himself out of a prison with a precise plan that demands you to stop worrying about things like logic and realism and that you just sit back and remember a time where movies could simply entertain. Ray is then recruited for a job at a high-end facility that’s being tested and must be declared escape-proof before they’re cleared to open. And because $5 million will tempt just about anyone in the world, pretty soon Ray is trapped in the Tomb with his whereabouts unknown to even the crew he works with on his escapes. It becomes clear quickly that Breslin has been set up and the things he’s been told about the prison are lies. Coupled with the sadistically calm Warden Hobbs (Jim Caviezel) it looks like Breslin may have finally found a prison he can’t break free from.

Enter Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Once in prison, Breslin meets Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger, duh) and soon Breslin is trying to convince Rottmayer to help him plan their escape while Rottmayer seems more concerned with Breslin’s past. What follows is an extremely entertaining series of plans being formulated and executed as Breslin and Rottmayer try to outsmart the Warden despite the prison being built as a massive correction to all the flaws Breslin has made his career out of exposing.

We’ll leave it at that so that maximum fun can be had as you see everything unfold, although the twists that do happen come from about a mile away and practically run in waving at you.

But this isn’t a movie about twists, this is a chance to see the men that invented this kind of movie show everyone how it’s done.

For his age Stallone is looking just as spry and fit as ever, you can conceive that he’d survive the type of punishment he’s subjected to throughout the film because he’s been a brick shithouse all his life, why would that change now? Unfortunately, his acting isn’t quite as fit. Listening to him explain how he breaks out of prisons and seeing him building these makeshift tools to escape is almost laughable. He’s asked to carry the load of dramatic/plot-building scenes and fortunately, those are kept to a very low minimum.

Jim Caviezel has a slick oiliness to him on the surface but deeper he’s able to present a character that truly seems deranged. He doesn’t get to be as flashy as the two leads here but he works well as an equally intellectual foil to the hero. He’d be a pretty good super villain if given the chance.

Really though, the star of the show is Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s no secret just how much we love the actor here at HefferBrew and this film is a prime example of what we’ve come to expect, and love, about the actor. There’s no way the pitch to get him to sign on was anything but, “Hey Arnold, wanna come film a movie with Sly? You get almost every good funny line and you get to shoot everything in sight.” The role is classic Arnie as one-liners abound (including a full on meltdown delivered in German), he makes all the “Arnold sounds” that fans know and love (think “Total Recall”) and most of all, he seems to be having the most fun he’s had since he came back to the movies.

The supporting cast is surprisingly stellar as well, Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant!) pops up as a prison doctor and is solid in the few scenes he has with Stallone, 50 Cent appears as a tech-savvy member of Ray’s team on the outside (don’t worry, he says a few things and wears cool hats, that’s about it) and  when you recognize that it is Vincent D’Onofrio as Breslin’s partner in business, you’ll find yourself wondering if he’d rather look like Edgar again.

For what it is, “Escape Plan” is a good entry in the action genre, some fans may be put off by the fact that the only big action sequence is the climax of the film, but the build up adds to the overall enjoyment of the end and there’s enough fight scenes throughout to keep fans interested until the gun fighting starts. For the fans though, this is a movie to see because of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Seeing him in action again really reminds us how much we missed him while he was gone, because while many have tried (Stallone included even), we all know there’s only one Arnold.

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