“Escape Plan” is the kind of movie you used to rent on DVD back when there were video rental stores on every corner. It wouldn’t have been your first, second or maybe third. It’s the kind of movie you chose when everything you actually wanted to see was gone. “This doesn’t look too bad,” you’d say to yourself, warily holding the case in your hand.
Combine low expectations with a couple of beers and maybe a fast forward button and “Escape Plan” is passable. But take any of those elements away and add in the price of a big screen ticket and the movie becomes way less passable.
Sylvester Stallone is Ray Breslin, a lawyer-turned-escape artist. He’s the Houdini of the penal system, a man who makes a lot of money as structural-security authority.
In other words he escapes prisons for a living.
He’s broken out of fourteen maximum-security jails but when he takes a job at The Tomb, a privately run prison where the worst-of-the-worst—people who need to be “disappeared”—are warehoused everything goes wrong. The deal changes and it looks like he might live out the rest of his years behind bars. Up against the evil Warden Hobbs (Jim Caviezel) he schemes with another inmate Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to “Papillon” their way out.
This is the kind of movie that used to go straight to DVD. The real question here is how “Escape Plan” escaped that fate and made it to the big screen.
On the upside it has a pretty good villain in Caviezel who is the nastiest warden since “Caged Heat’s” McQueen. There’s a twist I did not see coming and hearing Arnold say, “You punch like a vegetarian,” is always welcome, but I always hoped when Arnold said, “I’ll be back,” it would be in a good movie.
On the downside, and it is, admittedly, a lopsided pro and con list, there is dialogue that sounds like it was run through the Cliché-O-Matic™–not the new, updated iOS 7 version, but an older analogue model—to a couple of lame attempts at creating new catchphrases to the sight of two aging action stars trying to relive the glory years.
“Escape Plan” is further proof that the Sly and Arnie show only really works if the work “Expendable” is in the title.