Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are back in another action homage with the 80’s inspired (cast in point the film’s title card font) ‘ESCAPE PLAN’ (previously called ‘The Tomb’). Directed by the guy who did the rather randomly silly exorcism horror film ‘The Rite’ (why not some 1980’s action director?). The film sees Stallone’s security prison artist getting sent to a prison he helped design from a book he wrote. Getting help from Schwarzenegger, he must escape this hi-tech prison over seen by its warden (played wonderfully nasty by Jim Caviezel) and bodyguard of Vinnie Jones. The film has also has become infamous already before its release with the hilarious casting of Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson as a computer programmer and hacker (who to be honest isn’t that bad as there is not much for him to do in this).
The fundamental difference in this film compared to the past Stallone/Schwarzenegger action homage’s the past year or so, is that fact that it doesn’t follow the same formula of them shooting someone and then have a wise crack about how bad there knee or bad is because of their age. This means it can get on, without getting bogged down by it to actually tell a story, one of which is full of traditional escape- from -prison genre beats and that of ‘Fortress’ the Christopher Lambert, Stuart Gordon film from 1992. There are also some elements from 89’s ‘Tango and Cash’ (Stallone’s attempt with Kurt Russell to be Warner Bros other ‘Lethal Weapon’ franchise).
Like ‘Tango and Cash’ the film revolves around the teamed relationship between its two main protagonists. And while Schwarzenegger is rather charismatic (given a lot more to do here then look hard with a gun like in ‘The Expendables’ films) with his rather amusing jokes and one-liners (like Kurt Russell in ‘Tango and Cash’). However Stallone just feels a little too flat in his dialogue execution, not really reacting or giving anything for Arnie to bounce off, meaning that you feel like they are wasting what could have been a very good element here, and a first proper team up just between the two (which let’s face it you would have loved to see back in the 80’s and 90’s). This same issue occupied with Stallone in ‘Tango and Cash’ and remains here. Generally though , when it wants to be, it is fun. Sam Neil makes a extended cameo as the prisons Doctor, and there is some well played out action sequence. Is it overlong? Yes maybe, middle does get a little bogged down and you start to think why am I watching these two beloved stars doing this at their ages. And you do work things out before the characters do.
As it is, it is good fun, and probably more if this film would have been like back in the heyday. As it is it’s a fun and entertaining treat which should do it job from its aged stars. On a side note I would love to see them escape from The Pit from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, really would be interesting to see how that would turn out.