In Escape Plan one man enters, but two men leave. How is this possible? His name is Schwarzenegger.
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a security consultant that specializes in testing the security of maximum security prisons by escaping from them. Shortly after completing a job, he's contacted by the CIA to test out a new, experimental prison. The conditions of the job aren't under his normal guidelines, but the money's good, so he agrees to the job. As part of his cover he's to be captured and brought into the facility, but things quickly go wrong when he's drugged and his tracking device is removed.
Once Breslin awakens in "The Tomb", he meets Warden Hobbs (Jim Caviezel), who's not the warden the CIA said would be his contact. Clear that there's been a double-cross, Breslin knows he's on his own and is going to have to escape for real. Another inmate, Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), takes an interest in Breslin and the two agree to work together in order to escape.
It's a relatively simple "escape from prison" premise, but what hurts Escape Plan is that it gets a little too cute for it's own good. There are several Oceans Eleven-type moments where they have to go back and explain how things happened after the fact. It also did a poor job of introducing certain aspects. Warden Hobbs is interrogating Rottmayer over the location of someone called "Mannheim", but I don't remember any explanation why Hobbs wants Mannheim so bad. The reason for Breslin's double-cross was difficult to understand, not because it was confusing, but the motivation didn't make sense in the context of the story.
Miles Chapman and Jason Keller's screenplay could have used some tidying up, as well as some punch up on the dialog. I was actually disappointed in the lack of good one liners or banter between Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Escape Plan is also needlessly long at almost two hours and it's actually kind of boring in a few parts. Director Mikael Hafstrom needed to quicken the pace, and there were several parts that could have been edited out.
There's not as much action as you'd expect or would like to see from a duo of action veterans. There's a fun climax, but you have to sit through nearly 100 minutes until it happens. For the length of the film, the lack of action is really noticeable. The visual effects were a little rough in a few parts, too. With a budget of around $70 million, it doesn't seem like much went towards that aspect.
Arnold is the highlight of the film. It's not that Stallone is bad, but whenever the film focuses on him the tone is way too serious. Anytime he's joined by Arnold, the pace quickens and overall feels livelier. Arnie seemed to be having a great time and had all the best lines. There's a great scene where he's acting crazy while in solitary and he's totally eating it up. Not only is it the first time I can recall him speaking in his native German for any length of time, it's the best I've ever seen him act, period. His physicality may have diminished, but I can get into scenery-chewing performances if this is what we have to look forward to.
The supporting cast is pretty good. It also stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Sam Neill, Vinnie Jones, Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan, and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. None are given much to do, but I can't imagine turning down an opportunity to be in a Stallone/Schwarzenegger film even if they are past their prime.
While far from a good movie, Escape Plan has just enough for fans of Stallone and Schwarzenegger to get their fix. If you've been looking forward to this, then I think you'll get enough entertainment out of a single viewing, but it's not something you'll go back to watch over and over. It's right on that border of a matinee or save it for rental.
2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars