Directed by: Mikael Håfström (The Rite)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Faran Tahir, Sam Neill
For whatever reason, muscle-bound senior citizens Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger continue to foist themselves on moviegoers in an effort to prove they’ve still got something going. With their latest, Escape Plan, they’re obviously banking on nostalgia (the big, goofy moneyshot of Arnold firing a machine gun in slow motion proves this), since the idea is to be excited about the fact that these guys are still around to duke it out. Judging by the box office for the film, there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for a couple of thick-necked dudes in their mid-60s (or their stunt doubles) punching things, and occasionally each other, for a couple of hours.
It should come as no surprise then that what they’ve made is an incredibly stupid movie. This, unfortunately, does not translate into dumb fun, but a kind of confounding dimwittedness. Stallone plays Breslin, a professional escape artist who, for a living, gets thrown into prisons and then escapes them as a means of pointing out security flaws. The CIA tasks him with busting out of a seemingly unbustable prison reserved for only the nastiest of nasties. The prison itself is apparently secret and illegal, built with no windows and cells comprised of glass cubes. Prisoners are watched by masked guards dressed like sex-dungeon castoffs. Here, Breslin meets Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), who’s some sort of political prisoner. Together, they decide to escape by any means necessary.
Those means mostly involve hitting things with their fists, though Breslin’s supposed to be some sort of tactical genius and a former lawyer (yes, it’s a role that seems tailor-made for someone like Stallone). None of the movie makes much sense. For an illegal prison, they’re pretty good about obeying basic human rights, as Breslin and Rottmayer get tons of alone time to hatch their plan. There’s also the question of why this illegal prison just doesn’t illegally kill all these baddies, but this is a movie you don’t want to think too hard about. (The people that made it certainly didn’t.)
The cast is full of people (Sam Neill, Amy Ryan) you forgot deserved better, as well as a nice scenery-chewing villain played by Jim Caviezel. All this does is class up a pretty crappy movie, punctuated by Stallone’s grunts and Schwarzenegger’s hokey one-liners (I swear he’s getting worse at English). There’s a surprisingly left-leaning bent to the film’s politics, like Rottmayer working for some radical who’s out to destroy the world’s banks, or his comments on the problematic nature of for-profit prisons. However, I refuse to believe this is anything but accidental. The rest of Escape Plan is far too boneheaded to make believe it might having anything on its mind. Rated R for violence and language throughout.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artist Beaucatcher