Escape Plan — Predictable but Entertaining

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Arnold and Sylvester Stallone had parallel block-buster careers and saw themselves as action rivals. Arnold’s cameos in Stallone’s musclemen ensemble, “The Expendables” were just a starter. Now, they are back for a full-course in Mikael Hafstrom’s “Escape Plan” (2013), although the box-office figures will be no were near “The Expendables.” We know, what to expect from a Stallone movie: wafer-thin characters, brawling, tongue-in-cheek humor, steroid thugs and a lot of body counts. It’s all there, but it’s not merely meat-punching movie. It moves with a functioning intelligence, which meant to be taken on its own terms.

Ray Breslin (Stallone) works for Federal Bureau of Prisons, identifying firsthand the weak spots of federal prisons. He enters as an undercover inmate and eventually breaks from there. Things, as usually, get worse when he takes a prison-break from CIA. He finds himself double-crossed and left inside a beehives of translucent glass cells, with prison guards wearing some black masks. The prison is under the watchful eye of sadistic warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel). The story transforms into a buddy flick as Emil Rottmayer (Arnold) — an arms dealer — cozies up to Breslin with a bit of suspicion. They meet every day studying the patterns and plotting their escape. Even with a goofy back-story and over-drawn plot, the film remains alive throughout the end, where Arnold teeters with his machine guns.

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Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom (“1408”, “The Rite”) isn’t known for grand action set pieces or statements, but apart from the dull thud in the middle part, the movie isn’t boring. Although, Hafstrom has two action movie legends, he doesn’t rely much on 80’s nostalgia. He tries hard to blend in these stars into this ludicrous, entertaining chain of events. He gives a little extra edge by using the two main stars in an intelligent manner. The stunts are efficiently constructed, even though they break no new grounds.

Stallone exhibits the usual grimness as the walks around the exaggerated plot. The director tries a lot of close-up shot to bring out his characters’ intensity, although none comes. But, Schwarzenegger gives a more relaxed performance. His under-appreciated comeback movie “The Last Stand” failed miserably at the box-office, and so now he plays second-fiddle, with a cheery enthusiasm. In one of the scene, he even rants and raves in his native German (for the first time in his career). Jim Caviezel’ vicious warden looks menacing, while Vinnie Jones constantly bickers.

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“Escape Plan” is a far better Stallone movie. It has a decent chemistry between Arnold and Sly. It’s predictable and silly, at the same time, it is pure escapism. The macho superstars accomplish what they set out to do.

 

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