‘Escape Plan’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 9th, 2014 at 6:25 pm,

Escape Plan Reviews starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger Escape Plan Review

Taken as a straightforward action movie, Escape Plan is something that never should’ve been more than a direct-to-DVD feature.

In Escape Plan, Sylvester Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a man who specializes in a very specific talent: he infiltrates and then escapes from the nation’s most notorious prisons, in order to point out flaws in security. One day, Ray and his team are approached by a young CIA agent for a new type of job: breaking out of one the government’s shadow prisons, a place that doesn’t officially exist, used to house the worst threats to peace and order in the free world.

As soon as Ray arrives in the care of the fascistic warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), he knows that something has gone terribly wrong. No one seems aware of his identity, or his mission, leaving him stranded amongst the worst inmates on the planet. Needing help in order to do what he does best, Ray befriends cell block heavyweight Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and brings him into the escape plan. But getting out of the world’s most secure prison proves to be a task requiring a lot of brains, brawn and more than a few bullets.

Carried by the momentum of a Schwarzenegger/Stallone team-up, Escape Plan is nothing less than a shoddy, silly, testosterone-fueled action film throwback, which teeters between clever self parody and an embarrassingly bad attempt to create an actual action blockbuster, using two lions of the genre who are well past their prime. Whatever the intention, the final result (herby dubbed “Grumpy Old Men With Guns”) is definitely something that is so bad it’s fun – which is the only reason it’s not a total failure.

Stallone and Schwarzenegger in Escape Plan Escape Plan Review

Stallone and Schwarzenegger in ‘Escape Plan’

Directed by Swedish helmer Mikael Håfström (1408), Escape Plan looks like someone’s home movie fan-film, with a third act that would be hard to distinguish from one of The Asylum’s mockumentary flicks. Most of the film is shot in bewildering close-up frames of the actors’ faces, with very little sense of environment or space orientation. Given that the body of the movie is mostly dialogue between Stallone and Schwarzenegger, Håfström’s style in shooting keeps us pressed so close to the aging action stars we can practically smell their breath and count their respective wrinkles. Whenever Håfström tries to open up into movement, the shot choices and sequences become even more bizarre and disorienting; in general, very poor work behind the camera.

Those expecting at least a decent action quotient may want to realign their expectations, because there’s very little actual action in the film. The movie could fairly be described as a heist-thriller – only with the “crooks” trying to “heist” themselves out of prison – ergo, most of the film involves talking and scheming rather than shootouts or fisticuffs. The price of admission is really paid to see Stallone and Schwarzenegger in a bunch of winking meta-minded riffs on their respective personas, in between busting each others’ chops. It’d almost be the same if the two actors sat on a stage in front of a crowd joking with each other for an hour and a half – but hey, there’s sort of a movie here, too.

I say “sort of” because the script by Jason Keller (Mirror, Mirror) and Miles Chapman (Road House 2) feels like half a skeleton of a story filled in with whatever meat and muscle Stallone and Schwarzenegger threw at it in their many, many wisecrack exchanges. We’re talking about a film that fell out of the cinema tree, crashed to the ground, and managed to hit every branch of action movie cliches on the way down. The macho bravado, obvious twists, barrage of bullets that never seem to hit the hero, the awful dialogue – and yes, those iconic cheesy one-liners – it’s all there, just the way you found it in the ’80s/’90s eras. Taken as a straightforward action movie, Escape Plan is something that never should’ve been more than a direct-to-DVD feature; as a kitschy satire of Schwarzenegger and Stallone’s action man personas, it may just be unintentional genius.

Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan Escape Plan Review

Out of the lead pair, Schwarzenegger steals the show, as he clearly knows to have tongue-and-cheek fun with the material. Escape Plan plays in a very episodic sequence of challenges and obstacles related to the… er, escape plan, and the “episodes” with Rottmayer almost always result in some good humor. Even when he picks up a huge gun and does that trademark slow-mo turn and scowl, Schwarzenegger seems to be more self-deprecating comedian than faded star trying to reclaim glory. Stallone, on the other hand, still seems think this is all serious and relevant work being done, which makes his attempts at gravitas just as humorous as Schwarzenegger’s winking antics – only humorous in the ‘laughing at him’ as opposed to ‘with him’ kind of way.

The supporting cast is filled with big names and recognizable faces, all them oddly out of place and turning in some bizarre performances. Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest) gives one of the more weirder villain performances I’ve seen in awhile (effeminate sociopath warden, anyone?); at one point Stallone’s character describes a foul-mouthed 50 Cent’s character as a “techno thug” (umm…. okay); Amy Ryan (The Wire) plays a sort of love interest the movie kind of forgets about; Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order: CI), Vinnie Jones (Snatch), Faran Tahir (Elysium) – you’ll recognize pretty much every character you meet, and will likely wonder (as I did) how they ended up in this movie at all, giving the strange performance they did.

In the end, Escape Plan feels like one of those films that was made to be the next film immortalized as a drinking game with a cult following. Take a drink anytime that A) Someone says a line you’ve heard in EVERY action movie, B) When there’s a callback to a famous Stallone/Schwarzenegger flick, or C) Whenever the director puts the camera so close to an actor’s face you can see his/her nose hairs. Follow those three rules (if you choose to see this film) and you’ll be drunk in no time.

517840695 3 620 439 Escape Plan Review

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Escape Plan is now playing in theaters. It is 116 minutes long and is Rated R for violence and language throughout.

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Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. My wife and I were planning to see this, but as my opinion of films seems to align closely to the writers of SR, I will save my money and wait until it’s on DVD.

  2. I really think these actors need to retire. It’s just not fun watching them now, not to mention these movies are all poorly made. The first Expendables seem just a venue to show unnecessary shooting, killing, blood, etc, with none of it being impressive or coherent or anywhere near the action movies of old. The second was a tad better, but I continuously got the feeling that these actors’ days are over, and they should stop doing this and focus on non-action roles. Escape Plan felt the same from the trailer, and I guess the reviews confirm it.

    • Rather than recommending that they retire, might I suggest that you simply don’t watch their films if you don’t want to? Depending upon the film, many of us would still like to see them. For example, I would love to see Arnold do Legend of Conan, so long as the movie is well written.

      • Yes, I’m sorry for the wrong choice of words, I feel that way too, that these guys need the proper script and direction, neither of which were good in the Expendables, nor do they seem to be in Escape Plan. They really just need to be in a well done movie, and I’d love watching them.

        • Now we agree, and to further clarify my point of view, concerning a “well written” Legend of Conan film, I mean one without any campiness or humor in it. I’m hoping that they are going to write a dramatic and serious one, instead. If so, I feel that Arnold could have the real comeback film that he has been hoping for.

          • Agree with you,more in touch with the first one !
            That is a real classic ! And I hope somebody tries to imitate Basils score ! Or they use the old one ! There was a lot of unused material !

  3. Great Movie,can’t wait to see it !
    A friend of mine watched it already and said they were having a great time !

  4. Seems to be the problem I have with the Expendables movies. It is clear for the most part it is supposed to be parody, but it is shot oh so seriously with Stallone still believing another Oscar is on the horizon. Sigh.

    Still, nice to know Arnie got it. That alone will be enough to draw me in. But really, if this movie attempted anything other than putting two genuine action icons on screen and making things go boom on a stupendously regular basis, then it is an immediate fail.

    • But isn’t that what is great about watching Stallone movies, that he keeps acting like it is an Oscar contender?

      I think it’s great comedy, every duo needs a straight man and Arnie has shown that he can hold up the funny guy part.

      And if I recall correctly, this is the first movie that stars only Stallone and Arnold, that’s like a Batman vs. Superman movie right? :)

      Let’s hope this leads to a franchise… the Expendables had too little Arnold and too much Stallone.

      • @Bignerd

        Agreed, Arnold is so much more of a pleasure to watch because he’s good at humor. In this movie (Escape Plan) he was like the side-kick Sly didn’t want at the beginning, but Arnold just kept being really annoyingly persistent about it, which was actually kind of funny to watch.

  5. Old fogeys desperately trying to stay relevant by banding together. Give it up already! It’s sad.

  6. I’ve always been more of an Arnold fan than Sly, so I definitely enjoyed this movie because I found Arnold really hilarious in this movie. I never tried to take the movie too seriously despite Stallone’s serious take on it. This was always just an action movie where two old action stars get together and bust each other’s balls, lol. Watch it as that and it’ll easily be a much better film.

  7. Yeah most reviews for this film are coming in above average which is good enough for me to go out and see it tomorrow night. The film may not get high praise like some recent movies like Gravity however that is only because critics for the most part have no idea what they are talking about.

  8. Uh oh… a movie carried by dialog between Sly and Arnold?

    - “Arrgh aaar aarrhlll”
    “Brllblbbblblbl… brlbb bllbblblbl bbrrrrlbbo.”
    - “Arrgh. Araajjaaahlllaa aarrh arrghhha!”

    *fists fly*


  9. let me guess, some jokes about old age, some inside jokes about the two, then jokes about not understanding computers….and scene!

    • @Daredevil

      Nice try, actually Sly plays a computer/technology expert… Oh well, womp womp…

  10. I wonder how many tubes of Bengay they went through during principle.

    All kidding aside, I am a HUGE fan of both these guys’ past films. I still pop in Commando and Demolition Man every once in a while. Action movies have gotten shinier and smarter in the past decade or two, but they’ve also lost their bravado and viscera. Pros and cons to each style, but nevertheless, I think this team up is about 15 years too late. I’ll catch this for fun someday, but I’ll probably be ironing shirts while it’s on.

  11. Ill probably still see this. Huge fan of both Schwarzenegger and Stallone so them starring in a movie together is enough for me.

  12. Come on give the movie a break they clearly made this for their fans. I will laugh and enjoy the crap out of this movie.

  13. On Reddit today, Arnold was YouTube capturing requests for lines from his movies.

  14. as both Schwarzenegger and Stallone have the SAME voice actor in german language I expect another hilarious and (un)intended comedy element

  15. It really takes a lot to impress you guys huh?
    A drinking game? really??
    I just saw the movie, it was good. Sure it had some parts where they should of wrote better, but other than that it was not bad, the plot was always on point.
    The acting could of been better, (especially 50 cents) I mean sure there was some cheesy parts between Sly & Arny, but that is there thing, I would expected you guys would know that already. SMH
    These reviews are a joke. IMO

    • @Rigo

      Well, as it is all opinion, maybe this just isn’t Kofi’s cup of tea.

      Personally, I don’t drink so I never think about making a “drinking game” out of anything, so that part was pretty pointless to me…

  16. Why cant they deliver a goodd time? They’ve been delivering great movies for 20 +years and soon… they wont be around tto entertain us anymore…why not give it a chance…it a funny smart action comedy…I know some schtick is rehashed…but isnt everything? How many romantic comedies are rehashed? How many super hereo movies are rehashed…How many conans or hercules are rehashed material with little new to offer? How many horror movies are predictable as can be? I say just go with it..dont take so seriously… Guarantee a good time!

  17. There are very few movies like Gravity…like The Artist…Great Gatsby..The Dark Knight. ZERO DARK THIRTY….Etc. This is not that. This is a good old fashion action romp. Its a good movie that had me very ebntertained throughout. WATCH IT!

  18. Go see it! Support it so we get more films like it, I loved it. 5 stars for sure! Arnold was brilliant!

  19. My dad and I are suckers for any movie with Arnold or Sly by themselves but together? Yea…instant classic. I enjoyed it very, very much. I wan’t expecting Oscar winning performances; I was expecting cheesy interactions and cliche action. Frankly, that’s what I want from these guys because they are the kings of it. My dad and I ate it all up. (Especially the scene where they posed for the camera.)

  20. I really enjoyed The Last Stand, but thought Bullet to the Head was weak. (Loved both Expendables movies, though.) This has GOT to be better than Bullet to the Head, especially since it seems that Arnold isn’t taking the roles seriously. I will check this out this week because I am a fan of both actors and the chance to see these 2 guys blowing stuff up is too good to pass up.

    • its A LOT better than The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head. I liked those movies but this one was WAY better. This is a movie that I really enjoyed I will probably rent it so I can watch it with another family member.

  21. Great movie i loved Billybones post , Me and my girlfriend are exactly the same to be honest , love these guys , and i want more , loved the film , its exactly what you want , just pure escapism, gotta say its really great to have arnie back , obviously i know he did the last stand but this for me was arnie back to his best , his comic timing his just pure class!

  22. “Mockumentary” ?
    You mean Mockbuster.
    A mockumentary is a fake documentary.

  23. Love Arnie and Sly and maybe they are in their 60s but they both look great and are still cool in action films. This movie was exactly what there needs to be more of these days. Its different than a lot of the stuff out there and brings back kind of an old school flick feeling…like its 1987. Its not going to win awards and its not meant to be any other than an old school fun film. I actually thought it was very good and better than I thought it would be. I also liked Cobra, Bullet to the Head and The Last Stand etc…..even tho Arnold wasnt on the screen enough and with the 10 year lay off he was rusty. Arnold was great in this movie. Also to say Sly doesnt have it anymore is not true bc the last Rambo was great! I know it was about 5 years ago but still. Im waiting for Rambo 6 and him in Mexico!

  24. random: anyone hear then Xmen Sega video game song in escape plan? =D

  25. I just finished it…thought it was fantastic. I thought their acting was more than suitable and the ending was interesting enough to make the whole film worth it. I’m not sure what’s wrong with today’s audiences, but they take themselves so seriously, like this review who has more fun making old people jokes than actually trying to enjoy the film.

    Yes, they’re old, we all know that, we all age, and it seems like the easy way out to just rip on their age. Both of them are probably in better shape than the majority of the people commenting in this thread. I don’t think it has much to do with their age at all.