Escape Plan - DVD Review

'Arnie feels as though he may just be entering something of a renaissance (“Arnaissance”?)'

When the total age of your two big names comes to a whopping 133 years, and yet your movie creaks with decrepitude far more than either Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know that you’ve got problems. In fact, Sly and Arnie (as they will henceforth be referred to in this review, in keeping with Escape Plan’s nineties throwback flavour) are by far the most impressive thing here. Sure, they both look like they’ve been patched up using bits of a worn out leather sofa, and you occasionally worry that they could do with a sit down between fight scenes, but this is the best either of the aging action heroes has appeared for some time.

Sly holds his own throughout, showing about as much acting ability as he has since the 1970s but still throwing a punch and pumping bullets from a range of firearms pleasingly well. It’s Arnie, however, who feels as though he may just be entering something of a renaissance (“Arnaissance”?) in only his second starring role since returning to filmmaking. Whilst this isn’t a reinvention likely to lead Arnie down the same critically acclaimed paths as recent second-chancers Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck, it’s worth noting that the actor not only embraces his age rather than attempting to convince you he’s still thirty-something, but also attempts adding a few new tricks to his repertoire. A scene involving Arnie speaking in his native Austrian, for example, is one of the film’s most memorable and successful moments.

Elsewhere, Escape Plan rarely gets beyond the forgettably hackneyed. The concept is suitably ludicrous and never as clever as it thinks it is: the opening sequence setting up Ray Breslin (Sly) as a professional prison-breaker attempts an Ocean’s Eleven style explanation that only makes its fundamental flaws all the more glaring. Once Ray meets up with Emil Rottmayer (Arnie) on the inside of unbreakable prison “The Tomb”, things pick up somewhat thanks to the pair being able to play off each other relatively enjoyably.

What little improvement is managed however is quickly squandered as director Mikael Håfström opts for a final act which could have been plucked from any middle-of-the-road cliché-ridden actioner of the early nineties, whilst also disregarding much of what has been set up in the first two acts. Ultimately, there’s very little reason to recommend Escape Plan other than the two leads, and you’d be better served picking up something either of them actually did make two decades ago rather than this weak and weary imitation of it.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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