There are two very different films with Escape Plan. There is a clever plotted movie, with at least two well-constructed twists and some tense drama. The second movie is the one which stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and requires guns, explosions and violence.
The first movie, the tense thriller, is staged quite well. There is an escape by professional prison-breaker Stallone, which although full of logic holes, makes enough sense to convince of his abilities. This is doubled once the aging action-star is placed in the “unbreakable prison” and the different obstacles of his escape are laid-out for him. The ingredients are there for a very clever thriller with some cool moments.
Unfortunately, this is over-shadowed by the casting of two of Hollywood’s greatest action heroes. The casting of both Stallone and Schwarzenegger in the same movie is a seminal moment (even if The Expendables already had the first encounter) but this doesn’t feel like the right setting. For the first two acts, the actors are constrained by their surroundings, forced to talk and think their way out of problems rather than use their fists.
This highlights one other major issue: The writing. The script for Escape Plan is full of cringe-inducing one-liners and forced humour. Bringing two stars together who excelled at delivering a classic line doesn’t mean that every other sentence needs to be a funny or cool one. It doesn’t come-off as natural.
Casting these two also means the clever and intelligent thriller makes way for something more suited to their talents in the third act. Rather than use the intelligent, logical traits Stallone’s character demonstrated in the first act, it becomes an action free-for-all, with explosions, gunfire and violence being the best way to mount their escape. You’ll find yourself happier in these moments though, as this is what you want from a movie starring Arnie and Sly, it is just a shame it doesn’t quite match-up with the first part of the film.
It makes you wonder whether the script had major changes once the two action stars were cast. There feels like a very clever film hidden away under the generic action movie this film becomes and maybe with two different leads, the thriller would have played out in a cleverer and more logical way.
You can’t argue with a movie that plays to the talents of it’s two stars. It also has a great supporting cast, again under-utilised, like villain Jim Caviezel or random doctor Sam Neill. Again, you wonder whether these talents could have been better used in a different type of movie than the one this is presented as.
Overall, Escape Plan is a taut thriller for the first half and a mindless action movie for the second. Luckily, for the second half it has the talents of action legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It just feels like there could have been better film produced here if they hadn’t been the two stars involved.
Rating – 3
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