As an avid movie watcher and collector, I consider myself lucky to have been alive in the 80s, for that era was not only noteworthy for seeing the rise of the slasher film but also the rise of the action hero movie. Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, Jean Claude Van Damme, Jeff Speakman, and Bruce Willis all came to fame in this decade, playing hard to kill heroes who were adept in gunplay and stylized fighting. Yet, none were more famous, or bigger (literally), than Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both were muscled beyond belief and capable of killing large amounts of bad guys with their equally muscled guns.
It’s a shame, though, none of them were able to pair up in a film. I’m sure Tango And Cash (1989) would have been even more noteworthy had Schwarzenegger been Stallone’s partner. Well, here we are in 2014 and most of these guys are still doing action movies despite their advancing ages. Some are more successful at it than others and some have completely retired altogether (i.e. Chuck Norris). I was incredibly disappointed when Schwarzenegger decided to go into politics, but then again his movies around that time were lackluster to say the least. On the opposite edge of the spectrum once his governorship was over I was excited and admittedly more than a bit leery when with he decided to get back into the movie business.
Stating the obvious Stallone and Schwarzenegger are both in their late 60s and I don’t know about you but I generally don’t want to see old men actors trying to do the kind of action movies they did when they were in their prime. But ever since The Expendables franchise was created, I take these old guys’ movies on a case-by-case basis. Since being wowed by The Expendables 2 (the first one is unwatchable), it appears Stallone and Schwarzenegger have still got some ass-kicking life in them.
And wouldn’t you know it, only now, in their golden years, do they finally decide to do a movie together. Sure they were both in The Expendables and The Expendables 2 but Schwarzenegger’s role was a cameo in the first one and only a bit bigger in the second. Here, in Escape Plan, they both share equal screen time, and that time is time well spent.
Stallone plays Ray Breslin an escape artist of sorts who can free himself from any prison he’s put into and he makes money doing this. He’s basically given a false identity, arrested and incarcerated. His job his to show the wardens that their prisons have flaws and these flaws need to be fixed to make them escape proof. His team consists of business partner, Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio) his wife/ex-wife, Abigail (Amy Adams) — it’s never explained but they may have had a kid together who was killed by some scumbag Breslin helped get free when he was a defense attorney — and tech geek, Hush (Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson).
During his downtime between gigs, Breslin was designing a unique prison that was pretty much flawless, then one day a CIA agent comes to the office asking for his services to test out a privately funded prison. The off-the-grid kind. The kind where there is no due process. If chosen, you are simply incarcerated here and forgotten about. Breslin takes the job but soon realizes he has been set-up. He’s nabbed and taken to a high-tech fortress — but he ain’t getting out. The warden, played by Jim Caveizal, is obviously one of those psychopathic ones who delights in torturing and tormenting his prisoners.
Enter Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a prisoner whom Hobbes (Caveizal) wants certain information from, but Emil won’t snitch on his boss. Both of these guys eventually become friends after he realizes Stallone is the Houdini of prison break-outs and is the only one who has a chance of getting them both out alive.
Sam Neil has a small role as the prison doctor, and former soccer player Vinnie Jones (The Midnight Meat Train) plays a sadistic guard/right hand man to Hobbes.
I was into Escape Plan from frame one. The action is well staged and there’s a nice plot twist at the end, one that has Stallone uttering, “…didn’t see that coming,” and Schwarzenegger replying, “You should have.” I highly recommend this flick and hope to God these two action stars see fit to pair up at least one more time.
Lionsgate releases Escape Plan through their Summit Entertainment in a 2.40:1 1080p anamorphic high definition transfer which looks superb. The English 7.1 DTS-MA audio is crystal clear. You also get an English 2.0 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks. Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.
For extras first up you get an informative commentary with Director Mikael Håfström and co-writer Miles Chapman and these following featurettes:
“Executing The Plan: The Making Of Escape Plan” (22:13): Interviews with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, the director, writer, etc about how the movie came about and how it was altered to fit the two lead actors. Shooting title was The Tomb; glad they changed it. The Tomb brings to mind horror movies and Indiana Jones type flicks, not a prison escape film.
“Maximum Security: The Real-Life Tomb” (21:57): This is prisons 101. It covers the history of, how they are made, what they’re made of, the kinds of criminals housed in them, etc.
“Clash Of The Titans” (15:34): This was an interesting extra. Stallone and Schwarzenegger talk about how they’ve been trying to do a film together for decades, but back in the day their competitiveness at the box office seem to stymie that a bit.
“Deleted Scenes” (8:13): Nothing special here. Most are unfinished as you can see the computers in certain scenes are blank. None of these really add anything much to the story and it was a wise choice to not put them in, I think.
The best thing I learned from these features was that this movie is a set-up for a franchise centering on both of their characters, and that the scene at the end when Schwarzenegger takes that machine gun off it’s mount and starts mowing down bad guys right and left was specifically written for him once the writer heard he was joining the film.
I had fun with this movie and look forward to more from these two in their Escape Plan franchise.