Now, when I reviewed The Fifth Estate, I said that I couldn’t bring myself to go and see Escape Plan. But after I had written that, I started thinking that I may have been prematurely harsh in not even giving the film a chance.
So in the art of fairness, today I went to see Escape Plan.
Escape Plan follows Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) a man whose job it is to break out of high security prisons to test if they are escape proof. My mind initially went to GOB Bluth and his prison escape plan (or should I say illusion) in Arrested Development, but I pulled that back. Breslin is hired by a CIA agent to test a maximum security prison, however the location is not to be known by anyone (already alarm bells should be ringing). Breslin agrees and is picked up in New Orleans under the guise of a criminal named Portos. Immediately the plan goes awry (who’d have thunk it!) and it becomes painstakingly obvious that this isn’t the job that was signed up for.
Heading into this film, I wasn’t expecting much plot, just a lot of crazy action scenes with Sly and Arnie tearing sh*t up. However, the film is a lot better thought out than I would have given it credit for. I mean, it’s not Inception, but some thought went into the story. It certainly wasn’t the film I was expecting, so I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge!
Every escape requires three things: Knowing the layout, knowing the routine, and help from inside or out. Breslin’s help for this job comes in the form of a fellow inmate, Rottmayer … Enter Arnie!
This is the first film that Sly and Arnie have been the leading men in together, and the chemistry isn’t too bad. They bounce off each other (sometimes literally) quite well for the most part, however there are times when it becomes cheesy, and a few times feels a bit wooden.
Together they need to hatch a plan to escape, coming up against protagonists, Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), and the lead guard, Drake (Vinnie Jones). This at times feels slows, however never quite lost my attention. Bringing in a third inmate, Javed (Faran Tahir), to help with the plan, the film does start to circle a bit. With numerous scenes of intentionally causing trouble to be moved into areas of the prison they need to be, and repeatedly distracting the guards, which they keep falling for, the film does start to become a tad predictable.
However, along the way, there are some twists and turns that did surprise me and ultimately the film did the job of keeping me suitably entertained for just short of two hours. Although this probably could have been cut down to an hour and half, or hour 45 and still got the job done.
I did enjoy the film, and I was pleasantly surprised to witness (for the most part) a pretty compelling plot and not just 2 hours of insane action. The story does add some depth to the Breslin character briefly touching on the back story of his family and how he got into the business, but this isn’t fully explored. I have no complaints about this however, as with the nature of the film it didn’t need any more detail than is provided – it was nice to have and wasn’t dwelled on too long.
This film isn’t without it’s flaws though. At times the story feel a little sluggish, and it did take about 20 minutes for the film to properly hit it’s stride. As the film plays out it does lose momentum in places, although does pick back up again eventually. I have said that the story was quite compelling, and thought did go into the plot, however the script wasn’t fantastic. You expect cheesiness in a film like this, however it is a little too cheesy in places that make it slightly too cringing. It is also down to the script for some of the woodenness that is present, a few of the conversations don’t feel natural and look forced.
The supporting characters are a little bit drab, with Amy Ryan and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson as Breslin’s support team. These two don’t seem to gel with each other, or with Stallone. Some sort of relationship is hinted at between Ryan and Stallone’s characters, but it just feels awkward and fake, and the dialogue between the two is some of the worst and cheesiest in the film.
All in all however, this film is enjoyable, perhaps not in the way you might expect looking at the two leading men, but enjoyable nonetheless. I did leave the cinema smiling!
So, although this isn’t a classic, I do want to apologise for prematurely writing this film off. It is entertaining and most likely re-watchable. Plus it was fun to watch Arnie and Sly working together. I previously said tongue in cheek that I should have given this a try instead of The Fifth Estate. I can now say in full seriousness … Go and see Escape Plan, and not The Fifth Estate!
A film with flaws, but does it’s job suitably well … a respectable 6/10.