Escape Plan

80s action stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone have teamed up to power a 21st century prison break in the new film “Escape Plan”. The film was originally to be called “The Tomb” but underwent a title change during production.

Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a former prosecutor who now runs a company that evaluates the security of maximum security installations throughout the country. As such Ray has himself incarcerated under an assumed identity and devices ways to escape from the institutions so they can better understand flaws in their security systems.

Ray is very good at what he does and has been able to escape from every facility that he has tested. While this does not make him popular with Warden’s he is in high demand and as such charges a premium for his services.

Following his most recent escape, Ray and his associated are approached by the government to test a new ultra security facility, one that houses the most dangerous and undesirable elements the world has to offer. Ray is told that the inmates in the facility are there to essential disappear as they would be game changers to security if they should ever find freedom.

Despite the concerns of his staff, and buoyed by the double his usual fee payment, Ray agrees to be taken to the facility under the guise of an explosives maker.

Ray is soon captured in New Orleans and has his tracking chip removed before he blacks out and awakens in a glass walled prison with no windows to locate his position.

During his orientation with a brutal guard named Drake (Vinnie Jones) who killed an inmate during his trip to the facility and sadistic warden named Hobbs (Jim Caviezel), Ray learns that he is in serious trouble as he attempts to trigger his removal from the facility by uttering his extraction code to the Warden. What should have resulted in an immediate removal from the prison is instead greeted by scoffs as Ray is informed that he is there as the people who put him there do not want him ever to see the light of day again.

Enter Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a fellow inmate who takes an interest in Ray and eventually wins over his skepticism. Emil is in the facility as he was a top lieutenant for a crime figure and the Warden is convinced that if he leans on Emil hard enough, he will give up the location of his boss and former associates and thus usher in a huge payday for the Warden.

Despite the bleak, brutal, and seemingly hopeless life in the prison, Ray and Emil work with one another to devise a plan to escape from the facility and the dangerous Warden and his minions before it is too late.

What follows is a tense thriller with some good action in the final act as the two veterans deliver what they have been known for. The film is more a drama than an action film as aside from a few prison fights, there is not much action until the finale when the guns come out.

Faran Tahir does some very good supporting work to the film as a fellow inmate named Javed and it was refreshing to see a person of Middle Eastern origins play a criminal for something other than terrorism. He is a very interesting character who despite having a past and a dangerous side to him is a man of faith who never lets the bleakness of his situation undermine his faith.

Caviezel is very good as the cold and evil Warden who places profits over the lives of his inmates as he is truly a loathsome individual who is every bit the match for the stars.

Stallone and Schwarzenegger seem to be having a great time working with one another and there is some humor filled moments in the film especially during some of their disagreements where jokes are bantered back and forth which seem to also play upon their age and action images.

The audience went crazy during the finale when in trademark style; Schwarzenegger grabbed a massive gun in slow motion, and with a knowing smirk, mowed down waves of bad guys. He is very aware of what audiences expect from his characters and he wanted to ensure that he is still up to the task of piling up the body count.

Sam Neill is sadly underused in the film as the facilities doctor. He has a small part and my wife and I had to wonder why he took the part when an actor of his stature would likely not be interested in something that small.

While action fans may be disappointed with having to wait for the big guns to come out, the film is a very good drama than gets good performances from its stars and supporting cast and is a very enjoyable outing which shows that the two stars still have gas left in the tank.

3.5 stars out of 5.