The Good: The entire cast, the concept, and the surprise twists that keeps the audience on their toes.
The Bad: Plot holes and swift explanations allow us to become confused and ask, “Wait, why do we care?”
When I first saw the previews for Escape Plan, my thoughts were, “Oh Lord, here we go again. Old action stars, trying to relive the glory days.” You can imagine how high my hopes were for this movie. However, as I watched, I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy watching my childhood action stars show they still got it. It came as suddenly as an explosion in an Expendables movie. Arnold and Sly had found a way to break into my psyche and release all of my doubt. Escape Plan had won me over.
Sylvester Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a master prison break artist who is commissioned by a security company to find the flaws in every prison. Early on, we see these skills first hand in an Ocean’s Eleven-esque escape from a state penitentiary. Granted, while his skills are unquestionably good, behind every great man is a team to help him through sticky situations. Escape Plan is no different, as the whole movie shows that you can’t get anywhere without a good team backing you up. Sylvester Stallone just so happened to have the talented Amy Ryan as the love interest/handler to Breslin, plus Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as a hacker/tech specialist. This wasn’t really believable but he did have a few funny lines with Stallone in the beginning. Once Breslin finishes his first mission, he is assigned by the C.I.A. to break out of a new prototype facility controlled by a ruthless, calculating man named Hobbes (played by Jim Caviezel).
Before I continue, I do want to say that Jim Caviezel’s characterization of Hobbes made this movie for me. Outside of Stallone and Arnold’s buddy prisoner movie, Caviezel delivers an exceptional performance. This cold, possessive character becomes an excellent rival to Breslin by studying him and continuously making adjustments to his high tech prison. Something else I liked was that he wasn’t just a stereotypical prison warden who favored his guards over his inmates. He favored no one and even his guards feared him. To me, Hobbes stole the show.
Moving on from my healthy man crush with Jim Caviezel, when Breslin makes it into the prison, it doesn’t take long for him to meet Rottmayer (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Rottmayer’s only reason for being inside this prison is because of his involvement with a man named Mannheim. Now, this creates a deeper subplot that I won’t go into, but I will say that what surprised me about this movie were all of the twists and turns it took you on. It really had me on the edge of my seat wondering, “Ok what’s going to happen now?!” I came in expecting explosions and cheesy one-liners, which is what I got. However, I never expected twists! It was a very pleasant surprise that made up for any cheesy one liners this movie had.
Constantly questioning the plot direction was the worst part of this movie for me. I found myself wondering, “Why are they doing this again? Why does he want this again?” so many times that it made no sense. They do explain everything but it’s all in passing. My advice when watching this movie is to pay attention to every conversation because they will not repeat anything.
Overall, I thought this movie was healthy mix of Ocean’s Eleven and The Expendables, which makes for a thrilling, smart, action-packed film that allows us to love our old action heroes again.
In the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger as he’s about to shoot a gun at a barrel of gasoline, “Boom!”