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A Brainy Stallone Aids Escape Plan

  • Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2013 10 Oct
  • COMMENTS
A Brainy Stallone Aids <i>Escape Plan</i>

DVD Release Date: February 4, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: October 18, 2013
Rating: R (for violence and language throughout)
Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
Run Time: 116 minutes
Director: Mikael Håfström
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Curtis Jackson, Sam Neill

Is there such a thing as an escape-proof prison? If there is, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables) has yet to find it. He's THE authority on structural security and literally wrote the book on how to keep bad guys inside. To prove his point, Breslin earns a living by having himself incarcerated, then breaking out: the better to showcase a facility's flaws. It's an unusual line of work, but there's no one better at it.

When the CIA asks him to test a top-secret, privately-funded unit where people are taken to be "disappeared," Breslin—against the advice of most of his team—decides to go for it. That's how he comes to find himself in a facility that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, but actually came straight out of the pages of his own book. When the warden (Jim Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ) doesn't respond to his pre-arranged "evacuation code" Breslin's only hope is to break out from the prison he basically designed himself.

"Any break requires three things," Breslin says. One of those things is "help" which in this godforsaken space comes primarily in the form of fellow inmate Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Stand), a dashing derelict whose crime is of the financial variety. The rough-edged Stallone and suave Schwarzenegger are opposites who play well together, which makes for much of the fun of this film. And despite the grim setting, it is a fun film. Escape Plan hearkens back to action films of the 80s, complete with two of that era's biggest stars. Packed with silly (meant as a compliment) dialogue and plenty of punches, this is one of those guilty pleasures you can enjoy on a Friday night and forget all about by Monday morning.

Although Stallone gets top billing and rightfully so, it must be said that there is something deeply satisfying about watching Schwarzenegger snatch up a machine gun and slowly turn to face the enemy with a look of steely determination in his eyes (the audience burst into cheers at this point so it wasn't just me). For his part, Stallone holds up his end of this action-hero stick with multiple feats of both athletic and mental prowess. As we watch Stallone's expressive face, we can see his character's inner wheels turning and we can't wait to see what he'll come up with next. "You don't look that smart," Rottmayer tells Breslin. True enough, but that's why your mama told you not to judge a book by its cover. She'd say that about Warden Hobbes, too. Deceptively dapper and soft-spoken, Hobbes rules his kingdom with ruthless determination. He cares nothing for the well-being of his prisoners (or his staff), only the profit they will bring him. Caviezel's air of detachment and bored superiority is just what this character needs to make him the most hated man in the movie and a worthy adversary for our favorite prisoners.

As one would expect from a story set in a prison—especially with these co-stars—Escape Plan is a violent film. There are no laws governing the "off the grid" facility Breslin and Rottmayer are held in; "cruel and unusual" doesn't begin to describe their punishment. Beatings, torture (including waterboarding and trial by heat lamp), verbal and physical abuse, not to mention the psychological torment carried out by the sadistic warden, are all par for the course. It's not one for the kiddos, but adults who like their films of the shoot'em-up variety, who fondly remember the heydays of its stars, and who aren't put off by the R rating will enjoy Escape Plan.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Men stabbed in the neck with a hypodermic needle containing some kind of drug; man said to have inhaled clotting powder. Man shown drinking alcohol.
  • Language/Profanity: I lost count of the f-bombs after number twenty-five. Sh** said a couple of times, a** (sometimes combined with 'hole') a few more times; S.O.B., a man's mother referred to as a who** in a prison fight, and a man extends his finger for a photo (to comic effect). One character draws a cartoon of a horse's backside with an arrow pointing to it.
  • Sex/Nudity: An offhand invitation to discuss something "over breakfast," which may have intimated spending the night together, but it's quick and subtle and almost not worth mentioning.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense:  Considerable fighting; this is, after all, an action film starring Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Much of the violence is intense: shootings, stabbings, multiple deaths, beatings, torture (including waterboarding and other creative punishments), verbal, physical, and psychological abuse, close up views of wounds, blood spurting, and so on, but the sound of bones crunching was the worst. Many people die. In a brief scene a man is beaten to death and thrown off an aircraft.
  • Spiritual Issues: Breslin is shown with a Bible but it's a prop; he tears a page out and burns it in order to make ash for wall art and later drops it on the floor. As part of the prisoners' plan, a Muslim character takes a stand for his religion in order to gain access to open air, crying out "I want to be seen by my god."

Publication date: October 18, 2013