Thursday, January 30, 2014

Escape Plan

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! At no point, did we get a pithy one-liner that said, "All part of the plan."  I feel robbed.

Escape Plan – 3 out of 5

How can you have a piece of media about escaping prison and not throw in getting a ridiculous full body tattoo on a guy that hides a map of the prison? What is that? Amateur hour?

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is the greatest prison escape artist to ever exist. The man wrote the book on it. Hell, prisons actually hire his security firm and have Breslin incarcerated then wait and hope that he can’t get out. However, one day he gets a job to try and break out of a private prison that promises to be escape proof. After being drugged, Breslin wakes up in a state of the art prison at a secret location. Dazed and lost, Breslin befriends a fellow inmate; Emil Rottmayer (who has a name of a cheap hot dog brand you would get at a gas station and is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), he then slowly reveals who he is and his plans to escape. However, the sadistic warden (Jim Caviezel) and his equally sadistic henchman (Vinnie Jones) also discover who he is and specifically designed the prison to be Breslin escape-proof—Breslin’s book all but told them how to design the damn place. Quickly, Breslin learns that there’s an ulterior motive for him being in the prison and escape becomes far more important than just testing the jail.

When your prison looks like this, there is no doubt that James Bond is
fighting some henchmen somewhere in there.

I half expected to hate this film when I sat down with it. Not to sound mean but Arnold and Sly’s time has passed. While they have done so much great work in the past, all their current stuff has been kinda embarrassing (like watching Stallone run down the pier with bad knees in The Expendables). However, sometimes I’ve been surprised; like the incredibly fun and bloody return of Rambo and The Last Stand with Arnold was stupidly good fun. However, although I didn’t find the film to hold up to some of the guys’ older work, Escape Plan wasn’t that bad.

"So, you wanna get a smoothie when we're done filming this?"

The story is simple but effective. Right off the bat, the movie starts off interesting as you see Breslin pull off a slick escape from a maximum security prison and trying to see him figure out how to escape from the technological wonder that this new prison seems full to the brim with potential. Not to mention that seeing Arnold and Sly share a film together is pretty fun too and harkens back to their glory days.

It’s clear that Schwarzenegger and Stallone are having a good time filming together; there’s no doubt that this dynamic can easily be picked up when you see them sharing a scene. It is also very clear that Arnold is having the time of his life playing Emil Rottmayer and his enthusiasm, I will admit, made the jump from the screen and right into my brain and assisted me in having a good time with the film. Granted, neither of these action giants are thespians but for the roles they usually play, they work out fine (especially when arm wrestling is an important plot point). In Escape Plan, both men perform their jobs extremely well and both really sell their characters terrifically.

"There's got to be a way to work arm wrestling into my escape..."

Hell, most of the performances are great in this film. Vincent D’Onofrio plays one of Breslin’s cohorts at his Escapes ‘R Us company and he’s entertaining in the few scenes he’s in. Sam Neill plays a doctor at the super secret prison and, even though he also only has a few scenes, he’s decent. For spit’s sake, 50 “Bullet Magnet” Cent is in the film (like the others, in a small role) and I fully expected him to suck because a lot of rappers who try to make the jump to acting don’t realize that they can’t do it; however, I was surprised by the fact he was fairly decent—granted, he only had three or four scenes and very little dialogue, so that might have been the key to success.

50 got shot three more times in this scene alone.  That guy has been shot A LOT!

The movie even offers up a great antagonist in the form of the evil warden played by Jim Caviezel. There’s a cold cockiness about the guy that makes it easy to hate him…although, his fantastic suits he wears during the film makes it difficult to do that. The only problem with this character is the fact Caviezel decided to pretty much whisper all his lines and it made it hard to take him as a threat during some scenes when I found myself saying, “WHAT? What did you say?”

Eh, I don't care what you said as long as you tell me where you get your suits.

The only downside in the cast was Vinnie Jones as the guard Drake. There was a time when I was a Vinnie Jones fan—during the time when he was Guy Ritchie’s go-to tough guy. However, as the years passed and Jones became more desperate for work, his tough guy persona became less and less believable—mostly due to his loss of wit that came with it; the wit we saw in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. At this point in his career, I don’t find him to be that entertaining anymore and he just keeps pushing the same character over and over again to the point he’s no longer interesting to me…the fake abs and his bullshit portrayal of Juggernaut in X3 didn’t help my opinion of him either.

Wouldn't it be cool if he came back for X-men:  Days of Future Past or for
Apocalypse?  No, no it wouldn't and why would you say such horrible things?

Escape Plan works for what it is but it lost me towards the end when it stopped being what it was working towards and ended up becoming something else. Through most of the film, the story is a slick, sorta clever prison escape movie that starred two grandfathers of the action genre; however, as the film hit its third act and the escape was put into motion, the cleverness of getting out of the unbreakable prison in a unique, sneaky way is just tossed aside and the film becomes a generic action film and Breslin and Rottmayer just decide to say, “Fuck all,” and decided to just blast their way out with as many bullets as they can load into the clip. The action isn’t terrible but it isn’t memorable enough to justify the sudden shift from being clever to just using brute strength and violence to escape.

Pretty soon those damn raptors are going to learn how to commit crimes in order
to learn how to escape from prisons.

The final issue I had with the film is the fact that once the explosions, smoke and bullets are done exploding, dissipating and embedding themselves into walls and the soft squishy flesh of some bad guys, the movie has a lot of plot threads it needs to weave into the wooly sweater that is Escape Plan. While the actual escape should have been the end, the movie needs to resolve these established plot points and it does so in a quick, kinda messy way that ultimately made the film have an unsatisfying conclusion.

Vincent D'Onofrio, seen here looking like he's trying to hold in a fart.

Escape Plan isn’t perfect but it was far from terrible. While the movie unravels badly at the end and it has the unfortunately distinction of casting Vinnie Jones in it, Sly and Arnold are great together and the film is just interesting and entertaining enough to give it a shot. And you can probably give it a shot once it starts airing on Spike or FX because this movie seems destined for that. Now, hopefully, we don’t get a sequel and the whole thing starts all over again…Prison Break already cornered the market on the whole “Get into prison, escape from said prison and get into another one to escape from after just escaping the last one.”

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