Escape Plan (2013)

escapeplan_1Escape Plan (2013)
AKA The Tomb

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Matt Gerald, 50 Cent, Caitriona Balfe

Directed by Mikael Håfström

Expectations: Moderate.

threehalfstar


Any time a new film starring Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger pops up, I’m sure to see it and probably like it more than the average Joe based on my lifelong love of their work. Even considering this, I’ve headed into each one of their modern films with hesitation and tempered expectations. I’ve enjoyed every one so far, but I actively recognize that my unabashed love for the leads plays a large role in the film’s success. In the case of Escape Plan, though, I can honestly say that this is a fantastic prison break movie which also happens to star a couple of my favorite actors. The combination proved to be absolute GOLD; I loved Escape Plan from start to finish.

To tip the film’s hand too much would spoil the fun of the movie and its slow, metered build (which is paced perfectly), so I’m going to forgo my usual plot description. Just know that Stallone and Arnold are in prison together and they hatch an escape plan. But they aren’t in just any ol’ prison. No, they’re in a strange, almost futuristic prison, so breaking out isn’t going to be one of those “tunnel out and scale the wall” sort of gigs.

escapeplan_2Escape Plan is a lot more dialogue-heavy than most Stallone or Schwarzenegger films generally are, and this is partly why I liked it so much. This isn’t just the long-awaited action team-up of two giants in the genre, it’s an excellently balanced film with nice helpings of tension, action, drama and suspense. It definitely lacks character development, but did you expect any? Besides, in a film that offers such a wealth of excellent prison-based entertainment, this is hardly a concern. Character development or not, Stallone and Schwarzenegger turn in excellent performances that rival and probably surpass anything they’ve done in the last decade. Their characters are smart men stuck inside the joint who hit it off quickly, wonderfully well-matched with back-and-forth banter that is great fun.

escapeplan_3I must also commend the production for featuring a Muslim character in a prominent and mostly positive role. I say “mostly positive” because the character is a criminal locked up for God only knows what, but through his actions we get the idea that he is a man of his word who lives his life with honor and integrity. And given Stallone’s predicament, it’s easy to go one step further and surmise that the character was wrongly accused, locked away from the world thanks to someone pulling strings. This role could have easily been played by yet another white actor in a major Hollywood film, so the choice to make the character Muslim is a great step in the right direction of cinema diversity.

I think I’ll end here as I don’t want to say too much about the film for fear of ruining someone’s experience with it. It’s good to be aware that Escape Plan is more slow burn than action spectacular, though. But also know that good things come to those who wait. Escape Plan was way, Way, WAY better than I expected it to be, and I hope you like it as much as I did. If this had come out during the glory days of Stallone and Arnold, it would’ve been a massive hit. Absolutely, positively, 100% recommended.

And if that’s not enough to sway you, play the below sound file and then tell me this isn’t a film worth seeing!

Next up in this review journey through the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger is Twins! Wait… didn’t I say at the end of the Red Heat review? I did! And what do I have to say for myself in light of this deceit? Well… I lied. But Twins is next, I promise! See ya then!

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