Escape Plan (2013)
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom
“Escape Plan” is the first movie in which Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger both have starring roles…though you can hardly tell that these guys are leading men. Despite their piss-poor acting, “Escape Plan” actually works on some levels. Here’s what didn’t work and what did in this action mash-up.
What Didn’t Work
1. The story is merely a compilation of every prison break movie (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “Escape from Alcatraz”) we’ve ever seen. Not only is it bad, but it’s nearly two hours of bad. It’s snore-worthy — but the big plot twist in the middle will catch you sleeping.
2. The only thing worse than the story is the script, written by Miles Chapman (who hadn’t written a feature film before this) and Jason Keller (who wrote “Mirror Mirror”…ouch). It’s so bad it’s criminal. In action movies like “The Expendables 2,” the writers know what audiences like – lots of action with minimal dialogue. These guys don’t get that.
3. Even worse? The acting. Stallone’s performance is a stinking pile of dog crap. He acts like a man with no professional training, doing the bare minimum to express any emotion — simple or complex. He’s lucky he has name recognition and big muscles, because this garbage should have had the Italian Stallion black-balled from Hollywood forever. But his performance is award-worthy compared to the emotionless one-liners spewing from Schwarzenegger’s mouth. And who wrote all those awful one-liners and told Stallone to talk for long stretches of time? The two terrible screenwriters.
4. “Lots of action with minimal dialogue”…well, they failed on both parts. Not only do these writers torture us with lots of Stallone/Schwarzenegger dialogue, but they keep these two talking and don’t give us the action fix we desperately need. For the first hour-and-a-half, all we get are a few poorly choreographed prison riot scenes. We’re going through withdrawal by the time they give us any real action.
WHAT DID WORK
1. But don’t worry, adrenaline junkies, you eventually get your fix. The final prison break scene gives you its fair share of Stallone punching guards and Schwarzenegger mowing down everyone in sight with a giant machine gun. Despite Schwarzenegger’s awful acting, this display makes you want to stand up and cheer. And at some point, you have a suspicion he knows how awful this is. But he’s having a blast anyway.
2. The big plot twist! It’s not the best I’ve seen, but it builds at least minimal interest in a movie you were just about to give up on. Maybe “Escape Plan” is like a campy 1970s action flick, but it doesn’t seem to mind.
In the end, you’ll have to decide if “Escape Plan” (at almost two hours long) is worth the minimal thrills it provides. It’s by no means good, but in the surprise of 2013, “Escape Plan” isn’t 100% awful.