Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone didn't have much luck at the box office with their solo vehicles The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head earlier this year (even though both were solid action-throwbacks), but that might change with their upcoming team effort Escape Plan. In this prison breakout thriller, Ray Breslin (Stallone) - the world's foremost expert on structural security - cautiously accepts one more job before retirement: break out of the world's most hi-tech (and ultra-secret) prison. Ray is deceived and incarcerated in the facility known as "The Tomb" (the film's original title), where he plans a break-out with help from a fellow inmate (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who's also getting on in the years.
Escape Plan was directed by Mikael Håfström, who's more experienced at making supernatural horror films (1408, The Rite) than this kind of masculine buddy flick. The screen story was designed by Miles Chapman (Road House 2: Last Call) - whose original script was revised by Jason Keller (Machine Gun Preacher), credited as Arnell Jesko - and the film costars Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest), 50 Cent (The Frozen Ground), Amy Ryan (The Office), Sam Neil (Alcatraz) and Vincent D'Onofrio (Sinister).
Judging by the Escape Plan trailer, the people behind the film's marketing seem to have learned a thing or two from the miscalculated campaigns for Stallone and Schwarzenegger's recent films. Both Last Stand and Bullet to the Head suffered in part because the trailers kept reminding moviegoers that these muscular gents have gotten slower and creakier over the years. As opposed to fellow old dog Bruce Willis, who has somehow become more invulnerable after turning 50, according to A Good Day to Die Hard and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (which are vastly inferior to both Sly and Arnie's most recent movies).
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Here, there are no jokes about the stars being in their 60s or excess attention paid to the comedic and cheesy drama; instead, the trailer makes Escape Plan look like a good old-fashioned helping of tough guys on a mission, cracking wise and winking at the audience along the way (see: Schwarzenegger response to Stallone's claim that he breaks out of prisons for a living).
Previously-released details from the Escape Plan script (back when the project was still called The Tomb) suggest the story and thematic elements come together to form an enjoyable homage to old-school buddy fare like Tango & Cash and Red Heat (minus the kitsch and camp found in an action throwback like Expendables 2). If that's true, then here's to hoping that Escape Plan proves to be successful at the box office, so we can enjoy more of Sly and Arnie's macho posturing onscreen in the future (so long as they're able and willing).
Escape Plan opens in U.S. theaters on October 18th, 2013.