After a long lull in their careers, it’s refreshing to see Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger unapologetically doing what they do best, which is killing people and blowing shit up, all for the benefit of the movie going public. I can’t speak for the rest of audiences worldwide, but I can attest that in the last thirty years, my tastes have grown more sophisticated, as has my expectation of believability in any film. Unless, that is, the movie is shitty. In a shitty movie, it’s okay for bullets to blow up gas tanks. In a shitty movie, it’s fine with me when bad guys toting M4 carbines can’t hit the good guy, while, at the same time, the good guy is picking them off with little problem using a handgun. In high-falutin’ cinema, it’s bad form to end the climactic action scene with a cheesy one-liner. But in a shitty movie, that’s okay!
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, Escape Plan tells the tale of Ray Breslin (Sly), a security consultant whose specialty is going undercover in prisons and escaping, thereby letting his clients know where they need to beef up security. After his latest escape he is hired by the CIA to test the security of a black site prison. But…something goes wrong. It turns out that the warden, Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), is uninterested in anything Breslin has to tell him. Breslin seems to be stuck in this prison for real. And what a prison it is. It’s just about the opposite of anything one would imagine a black site to be. It is, however, very much in line with the type of prison that would feature in a Stallone flick. This isn’t the first time the big guy has been behind bars in a movie. Before Escape Plan, there was Lockup and Tango & Cash, both of which could be interchanged with this piece of shit and I’m not sure anyone would notice.
Inside the prison, Breslin meets Rottmayer (Arnold), and the two go about finding a way to escape. That’s about it. This is a buddy action film. The two heroes match wits and biceps with the bad guy and his henchmen. Of course, there is some nefariousness afoot, otherwise there wouldn’t be any reason for the plot. Or, wait, maybe plot came after the action in this one. That’s probably more accurate. This movie is very much a star vehicle for the two leads. Anything else is peripheral, including a sensible story.
The thing I find most incredible about Escape Plan is that it made money. On a budget of fifty million dollars, it has brought home almost three times its budget, not counting the five bucks I paid to rent it. Because it made money, that means both Sly and Arnold have an incentive to make more dogs like this. Oh, please do. I had no idea the void that was left in my cinematic life when stupid ’80s action flicks went out of style. But now they’re back, and they star the same people! That is just fantastic.
But, that doesn’t mean Escape Plan is worth a damn. I went into this viewing expecting a shitty movie, but I was hoping for good shitty. For most of its runtime, this flick is bad shitty. There’s a lot of movie to get through before the climactic gun battle, and it is bad, bad, bad. So bad. It’s so bad I don’t need a thesaurus to beef up my writing. Bad. Put another mark in the column for Alien: Resurrection. It is better than Escape Plan. But, Alien: Resurrection would have been fucking awesome if Sly and Arnold were in it. Hear that? I want an Alien flick with Sly and Arnold, and I want it by 2016. Get on it!