Friday, October 18, 2013

Escape Plan Movie Review

Sylvester Stallone & Arnold Schwarzenegger (r) in Escape Plan

There's Always Plan B

'What kind of man would choose to live his life in prison?' It's a valid question, and one that Sylvester Stallone answers with lovable panache in Mikael Håfström's Escape Plan. I won't lie: It's not a great movie by any means; but it showcases the long-awaited pairing of Stallone and fellow action megastar Arnold Schwarzenegger, resulting in the following decree... Every movie should have Arnold & Sly in it! These guys absolutely rock.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: One of the world's foremost authorities on structural security agrees to take on one last job: breaking out of an ultra-secret, high-tech facility called "The Tomb." Deceived and wrongly imprisoned, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) must recruit fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to help devise a daring, nearly impossible plan to escape from the most protected and fortified prison ever built. ESCAPE PLAN is the first pairing of action legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in leading roles, and co-stars Jim Caviezel, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio and Amy Ryan.

What’s Best: I'm an Arnold fanatic, and proud of it; but even I was impressed at how well the former Governator looked and acted. If this is what 66 looks like, then consider me all-in for getting older. Schwarzenegger slides into #2 status seamlessly, eventually stealing the show with his usual arsenal of one-liners and... dare I say it, modesty and compassion. It's a whole new Arnie, and I couldn't get enough.

Once Breslin moves into "The Tomb," the movie kicks into high gear, and doesn't let up. There's plenty of ass kicking and one-liners; but Escape Plan thrives on its ability to focus on planning and thinking. Sly's Breslin takes the prison apart piece by piece, without breaking any of it in the process. Kudos also to Sam Neill, who brings a level of creditability to the mix as a prison doc with a (possible) conscience.

What’s Not: The beginning leaves lots to be desired, especially Sly's team (Ryan, 50 Cent and D'Onofrio... all of whom add little to nothing in terms of raw entertainment.) Not everyone will like how campy it is; and 115 minutes is cutting it darn close, in terms of running too long. That said, there's not enough here to recommend not seeing it.

Best Line: Leave it to Arnold to dish out left hooks and right crosses in between hilarious put-downs, 'You hit like a vegetarian!' and my personal favorite, 'Relax! It's pretend,' right before delivering one of his trademark 'Arghs.' Love that guy! Not to be outdone, Sly shows he is "user friendly" when he compliments a prison warden, 'You have very good chocolate milk,' while explaining his 14th "escape plan."

Overall: Escape Plan works on many levels, but it sets itself apart with the unmatched rapport between its two stars. Schwarzenegger and Stallone appeared together for a few moments in The Expendables 2; but that was just a taste of what was to come. Neither icon (yes, they're icons... don't you dare disagree) tries to upstage the other, and that's what makes Escape Plan so special. There are plenty of light-hearted moments throughout, 'Say cheese!' and tiny details "Maximum Security toothpaste" worth waiting for. Sly kicks sufficient amounts of butt (including an overconfident technician who brags, 'I'll take care of this' before getting knocked out with one punch) and Arnold delights with extreme close-ups, followed by a massive shooting display, a la Commando. What more could you ask for?

Grade: B