Imagine joining a prison gang with these two. Yeah, you better not screw up. EVER.
In order to deem whether or not prisons are “inescapable”, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) takes the hard job of getting thrown into these prisons, and actually test out whether or not he can use whatever trick in his books to escape. He’s been to plenty in his life, has escaped them all, and better yet, has even writing a book telling prison owners how not to get caught up in the same kind of funk most of these other owners find themselves in. However, Breslin may have meet his biggest, toughest, and possibly, even final match when he gets thrown into a full-scale prison that’s mysteriously so off-the-books and hidden, that nobody has a clue that it exists. That’s how the warden (Jim Caviezel) likes it and wants it to stay, by any means possible. But once Breslin gets acquainted with fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), then he knows he’s going to have stack up on everything from security, protection, and most of all, his power.
The pairing of Sly and Ahnuld may have seemed like a pipedream for most Hollywood executives back in the 80’s and 90’s, but now, over 2 decades later and with both gentleman verging on the age of 70, now is as good a time as ever! And yes, before any of you do get all up in my grill about how they both appeared together on the same-screen in the two Expendables movies, they don’t necessarily count. Yes, they show up on-screen together for a bit and throw winks and head-nods towards one another, but they aren’t really substantial roles or time-limits where you can feel like you’re 10-year-old’s boy dreams have come true right in front of your own very eyes.
However, now you can have those dreams come true, regardless of if you’re way into your 30’s/40’s or not. Either way, it’s Arnie and Sly together, for a full movie! And while Sly does get the bigger role of the two, there’s still plenty of celebration needed to be had here because not only do the two seem like they really do enjoy working with one another, but also seem to have really invested themselves in this material, that it doesn’t feel like a 2-hour-long joke like the Expendables movies do. Instead, this somehow feels like a long lost action film the two could have made during the peaks of their fame in the late-80’s-mid-90’s, and it works.
While the movie does feel like it is a bit too serious for its own good, you still get the feeling that everybody involved set out to make a fun, dumb, and obviously implausible movie that could only be made with action legends at the helm such as these two. Together, they make good use of the time that they have together and while they don’t get to shoot as many guns as they may have wanted to, you still get the feeling that you’re not missing out on something either. You know that the plot will start to move, and once it does, the tension will pick up and so will the action, violence, blood, and all of that fun stuff. Like I said, it made me feel like I was watching a serious, but respectively made action film either of these two could have made back in their golden days, and it did a great deal for the material and made it more fun to watch, rather than just joking the whole time.
Now, that said, it IS an Arnie and Sly team-up, which means you’re definitely not going to get the smartest material out there, but then again, I don’t really know if that’s the point here. The whole idea of getting out of this prison seems pretty far-fetched, but the whole idea of an underground prison where all of these dangerous people are left not having any clue where they are at and forced to live out the rest of their days in total and complete solitary confinement, seems pretty far-fetched. However, the movie milks it for all that it’s worth and I was taken for a few of the twists and turns this movie comes up with out of nowhere. That may have been the case because they were so stupid and random that nobody, not even the writer himself, could even predict it; however, I was all game for those types of surprises because it just added more and more to my overall enjoyment of this movie.
Before I go any further though, it should be noted that Sly and Arnie, for their first, full-length team-up, don’t crap out on any of us wanting the best from these two, even if their acting skills sort of have rusted-up a lot in the past few years. Listening to these two have a conversation, whether it be about the next step in their escape plan, or just a simple session of shooting the breeze, you’ll scratch your head in wonderment of what the hell it is that they are saying, and also, why every line had to be a pun. I get that this is the best way these two can get a reaction out of the crowd that isn’t full of anger or cheers, but seriously, have a normal conversation every once and awhile, would ya?!!? Maybe that’s just me asking too much from a movie like this, and if that’s the case, I do apologize. Not just to you, the reader, but to both Arnie and Sly as well, seeing as they couldn’t hold back their internal joy and happiness of being able to work together for a single second here. But the energy is palpable and you can’t help but fall in line once the going gets going.
Luckily for those two hooligans though, is that when we aren’t too busy listening to them slurring their words like my Uncle Johnny on a Tuesday evening, the supporting cast is taking full-control in giving all that they got with this scrappy material. Some better than others, but hey, what do you expect from a script this dumb? 50 Cent, not Curtis Jackson, is actually funny playing Breslin’s most trusted and loyal co-worker, finding any hint or clue that may lead him to be reunited with his bud; Amy Ryan is hot, spicy and fun as the only important female in this whole flick filled with ungodly amounts of testosterone, but she holds her own, like she always does; Vincent D’Onofrio is slimy and a bit of a dick as Breslin’s boss, but with that bit of casting, I bet you already expected that, and last, but certainly not least, we have Jim Caviezel as the sick, twisted, and slightly sadistic warden of this new prison Breslin gets thrown into.
Ever since he was crucified all of those years ago, Caviezel hasn’t really shown his face around much, yet, still did enough work to where we knew he was in fact, alive, well, and still working. That’s why you can probably forgive me for when I say that not only does Caviezel steal every scene he’s in, but practically walks away with the whole movie in his bare palms when all is said and done. And yes, I do mean that he’s doing such a thing in an Arnie and Sly team-up, actioner! Caviezel is just so dead-pan, weird, and off-kilter that you wonder what’s going through his mind at any given moment and even if you don’t want to go that far, you can still be interested knowing that he is unpredictable and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his reputation as a bad-ass son-of-a-bitch. Never thought I’d get that type of role from the same cat who played Jesus Christ, but I’ll be damned if this guy doesn’t have range!
Consensus: While you don’t need a whole lot of brain-power to enjoy Escape Plan, just know that this may be the first, last, and possibly only full-length team-up we’ll ever get between Arnie and Sly, which means you can’t take any of it for granted, in the same vein that they aren’t, enjoying every second that they got together with each other and this material. That’s right, it’s like a little something we call love. Or a bromance. Same thing.
7 / 10 = Rental!!