johnlink ranks ESCAPE PLAN (2013)

Even though this was clearly a movie which starred a couple of guys WELL past their prime, I have to admit that I’ve kinda, sorta wanted to see this since it came out anyway. Last night, I finally did.


I watched ESCAPE PLAN (2013) on 4.17.15. It was my first viewing of the fllm.

Ray (Sylvester Stallone) is a professional prison breaker. He runs a company with Lester (Vincent D’Onofrio) which sees him covertly entering prisons just to break out of them – testing their security. He gets a job offer to test a brand new private prison, but things quickly go south when it is learned that Prison Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) is both ruthless and uninterested in Ray’s story. Soon, of course, Ray must work towards actually escaping a high security prison which is run by a guy who knows that it is Ray’s job to do so for a living.

Fortunately Ray soon meets up with Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger). He is a prisoner who has information Hobbes wants, and so both Ray and Rottmayer use that as leverage to try and plan their escape. In the mix, also, are the woman who got Ray the job (Caitriona Balfe), Ray’s outside business partners (played by 50 Cent and Amy Ryan), a villainous guard (Vinnie Jones), a Muslim prisoner from the opiate trade (Faran Tahir) and a benevolent doctor who may (or may not) be an ally (Sam Neill).

With that sort of a cast, the movie sounds like it is one of those terrible flicks which just throws money at actors to jump on board. Surprisingly, it turns out to be one of the better offerings late in the careers of Sly and Arnold. Director Mikael Hafstrom knows what he has in these two veterans. He manages to have them fight each other, fight a little bit separately, and ultimately pack some fire power. Despite this, the movie is more suspense than action. Much of the film is focused on the personal torture of Ray or the logistical planning of the escape. The action beats happen throughout, but the movie doesn’t turn to action as its default until the very end (when it gives the audience what it wants out of these two). ESCAPE PLAN will never be confused with the great action films of all time, but it is (perhaps) the best we can hope for out of these two guys at this stage.

It’s flaws are plenty too. Believing that Sly Stallone is always the smartest guy in the room requires quite the leap of faith. A complex prison having – ultimately – some pretty easy flaws to exploit also proves somewhat unbelievable. A good-guy turning bad is too convoluted (and unnecessary) for this kind of movie. But that heel turn gives some of the out-of-prison people something to do… only it never asks them to do much. It feels, with the 50 Cent-Amy-Ryan-Vincent D’Onofrio, like the movie was trying to give these names something to do rather than actually having¬†something meaningful for them to do.


But that’s okay, really. Because this movie DOES have Jim Caviezel going for it. Caviezel has gone from playing the good-guy in prison (with THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO) to playing Jesus (in PASSION OF THE CHRIST) to playing the unstoppable action hero (in TV’s excellent PERSON OF INTEREST). Here, he finally gets to branch out as a vulgar and ruthless villain. He’s great as Hobbes, and he gives Sly someone who feels formidable. Vinnie Jones as the Number Two may feel an afterthought, but Hobbes is a legit action-flick baddie.

The more I think about this movie, the more of a guilty pleasure it becomes. I would have loved this movie as a teenager and totally been able to have blind spots where the flaws are. Now? I see it as a fun action flick, a nice late-career spot for Sly and Arnie, and can make the conscious decision to allow myself to be entertained rather than annoyed. The plot holes are plenty, but the movie entertains anyway. I’d put this one in the plus column for both those guys.




FINAL SCORE: 6.5 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on April 18, 2015.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks ESCAPE PLAN (2013)”

  1. Though it’s not as awesome as I would have liked to see have seen this movie thirty years ago, it was still a fun enough watch. Nice review John.

  2. Yea, I saw this shortly after watching Bullet to the Head, and it’s like night and day.

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