The idea of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger working together outside their world of The Expendables is intriguing. The fact that the first time that opportunity arose in the film Escape Plan seems like a wise enough decision. The story is custom-built for both aging action heroes.
As teased in the Escape Plan trailer, Stallone is Breslin, a man who has made a career out of breaking out of prisons. See, he works for a corporation led by Vincent D’Onofrio’s Lester Clark who is hired by the Department of Prisons to ensure that all federal incarceration facilities are escape-proof. Why someone would do a job like that… is actually explored in Escape Plan.
After the film opens with the escape teased in this Escape Plan clip, he returns to headquarters and we meet his team besides D’Onofrio: Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Amy “Mrs. Michael Scott” Ryan. They think he should take a break, but instead a CIA agent comes in with a lucrative offer to send Breslin into one of those off-the-grid international prisons that contains the worst of the worst. And yes, they want to make sure it is also escape-proof. Despite his team’s objections, Breslin takes the gig.
He is to be abducted and taken to this prison, but immediately… nothing seems normal. Then, he awakes in a prison unlike any he (or we, for that matter) has ever seen. It seems impenetrable by even the wildest fantasy. And… the warden is not who he was told it would be. In fact, Jim Caviezel’s Hobbes is almost sadistically worse that most movie wardens we’ve seen in recent memory! Also, they have no idea who Breslin really is, and when he tries to give them an “Evac Code,” as seen in this Escape Plan clip, they have no idea what he is talking about.
His identity has been erased and he is God knows where. It is then that he meets Schwarzenegger’s Rottmayer. His role in the story? Well, that would give away too much.
But, what is compelling watching these two outside their The Expendables confines is their natural chemistry. It is clear that these are two actors who deeply respect the other. And their respective fans will certainly have a ball watching the two work together to right an enormous wrong.
Are there holes in the story? Sure! Is some of the acting not of the highest quality? Absolutely. Caviezel (who we adore) is way more over the top than the story calls for. What is a surprise is that Schwarzenegger actually dials it back a bit and delivers a delightfully subtle performance where he lets the action do the talking. So, when he does pick up that enormous weapon we all know he will… it evoked cheers from our screening audience. Well played, Arnold, well played.
Our Escape Plan review finds that what you expect from a Stallone-Schwarzenegger pairing is exactly what you will get -- not any more, and not any less. By that standard, you get what you pay for, and that's a full-fledged enjoyable break from reality.