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Escape Plan
Genre Action
 
Review:

Escape Plan is the culmination of a big idea that has been simmering, along with their testosterone levels, for a couple of decades. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have finally made a movie together. The quintessential '80s action icons have trail-blazed their way into Hollywood history and pop culture with long and impressive careers. Now they're making Dennis Rodman and Jean-Claude van Damme look like amateur hour by teaming up.

After Stallone created the homage to '80s action heroes in The Expendables, the two got a small taste of what it would be like to work opposite one another. The cheesy in-house grimaces proved it could be done, the public wouldn't revolt and their massive egos could be housed in the same film without causing the apocalypse. When the Governator's term ended, Escape Plan became a reality under the direction of Mikael Håfström.

Stallone stars in this old school actioner about Ray Breslin, a professional jail breaker, who gets contained in a prison built on his know-how. What starts as a lucrative and slightly dangerous prison break turns into a full-blown do-or-die mission as the escape artist finds he's on his own... or is he?

While Escape Plan has an intriguing story and the makings of an action classic, it pales in comparison to John Woo's Face/Off with Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. The two films have a number of similarities with the exception that Escape Plan leans almost entirely on its major action stars.

The action is typical for a prison movie and it's great to see Sly and Arnie have still got it. Their performances aren't quite tongue-in-cheek, but there's a knowing look behind all the prison drama. The actors do have a healthy chemistry and that propels the buddy movie aspect of Escape Plan.

Without the stars or their innate chemistry and mutual respect, there wouldn't be much of a movie. Jim Caviezel does add to the film as the cold warden, with the ever-present Vinnie Jones as his second-in-command over an infantry of masked prison guards. However, besides some futuristic production design and big name action stars, the film is quite indistinguishable.

Things do improve when Stallone and Schwarzenegger meet up. Up to that point, Escape Plan has a TV action movie quality, despite the solid opening sequence with Stallone. We've seen both of them in a number of old school action revivals over the last few years, which have been most welcome. Escape Plan is largely underwhelming, based on expectations, but isn't bad enough to upset the bullet-riddled apple cart.

Unfortunately, beyond an intriguing premise, two big names and some reasonable bookends - the movie gets bogged down by the stagnant prison scenario. It's entertaining for the most part, but drags through over-familiar and uninspired scenes. The film isn't strong enough as a drama and just gets by as an action movie, making the whole affair enjoyable yet somewhat bland like a wrestler-turned-actor vehicle.

Stallone and Schwarzenegger have enough fun doing their thing to make Escape Plan enjoyable and there are one or two clever little twists here and there to spice things up. It's not going to resurrect the Uzi, it's not going to force these action legends into retirement (just yet) - it just gives you new found respect for movies like Face/Off.

The bottom line: So-so

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