Friday, November 22, 2013

Escape Plan (2013)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

As a modern day Houdini, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a former prosecutor, who studies and escapes from maximum security prisons to exploit any weaknesses in the system (the guard’s routine, security cameras, keypad locks, etc.). Abigail (Amy Ryan) and Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) work together as Ray’s support team, and Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio) is Ray’s manager.

Ray is widely regarded as a precise expert with a flawless track record, but things change, when Ray ponders a lucrative proposal for a new mission. CIA agent Jessica Miller (Caitriona Balfe) promises Ray and his team a five million dollar pay day, if Ray agrees to infiltrate The Tomb, an impenetrable and hi-tech top secret prison used to contain the most vile criminals on Earth. Abigail and Hush are uneasy about the sketchy and vague details, but Clark is more concerned about missing the once in a lifetime opportunity to collect a five million dollar paycheck, so after some prodding from Clark, Ray accepts the mission.

At The Tomb, Ray is confused, when he meets Warden Willard Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), because Ray was expecting Warden Roger Marsh, but Warden Hobbes reassures Ray Warden Marsh doesn’t exist. And the situation becomes more complex, when Hobbes dismisses Ray’s fake evacuation code.

With no one else to turn to, Ray teams up with Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a fellow inmate, who promises to help Ray escape The Tomb. Emil uses his influence as the head honcho within the prison to provide Ray with the necessary resources, and using morality as the basis for his arguments, Ray reaches out to a reluctant and fearful Dr. Kyrie (Sam Neill) for help.

Ray must endure taunting and savage beatings from Drake (Vinnie Jones), Hobbes’ Chief Of Security, and time is running out, as a suspicious Hobbes vows to derail Breslin’s plans for an escape, with the promise of imprisoning Breslin in The Tomb until his final breath.

Schwarzenegger and Stallone share easy chemistry, as a duo of grizzled tough guys, who are looking for a good fight. The approach of using Schwarzenegger as the muscle and Stallone as the brains of the operation really works, because having both men portray lethal ass-kicking machines would’ve been a counterproductive move. Constantly watching a barrage of scenes featuring Arine and Sly breaking necks and firing large guns every five minutes? Yeah, the onslaught of thuggery would reach a “too tiresome” point after a while, but with Arnie doing most of the dirty work (Sly isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and fight every now and then), and Stallone pulling the strings, you get a chance to see more variety, when comparing and contrast the personalities between Breslin and Rottmayer. Plus, Arnie and Sly provide some good laughs during their sporadic back and forth arguments, and Arnie is hilarious in a handful of scenes without Sly (i.e. the waterboarding scene, and the scene in the box with Hobbes, where Rottmayer spouts random nonsense to give Ray more time with his plan).

Jim Caviezel is a nice fit for the primary antagonist. Warden Hobbes is a cocky and ruthless dictator with no mercy, and Caviezel brings the essential commanding presence to this character. Vinnie Jones is solid, as the grimacing hard-ass, Amy Ryan isn’t bad as Abigail, but her screen time is limited to sporadic appearances, and 50 Cent is harmless as Hush. Vincent D’Onofrio is believably pompous as Clark, and D'Onofrio's character takes a slimy turn (more on that later) as the story progresses.

Where is The Tomb? Ray’s an expert and Rottmayer has connections, but if they’re going to plan an escape, they NEED to know where they are. Rottmayer is able to cause a distraction after a calamity in the solitary confinement cells. Meanwhile, Ray is able to climb a ladder that leads to the outside. And what does Ray see outside? Water. Lots of water. Why? Well, The Tomb is a prison on a freighter ship, and the freighter ship is currently located in the Atlantic Ocean.

A nice shock. It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the location of The Tomb. A few times, I thought I was near “Getting warmer” territory, but The Tomb being on ship? Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming. And to add the icing on the cake, there’s a zooming out shot of Stallone standing on the deck by himself with this hopeless and devastated look on his face. Good stuff.

With some help from Rottmayer’s connections, a volunteering inmate (Javed, portrayed by Faran Tahir), and Dr. Kyrie, Ray and Emil finally escape The Tomb in a helicopter. Ray manages to fire series of shots into a group of oil barrels to kill Hobbes, while clinging to the broken ladder on the helicopter. Hobbes burns to death in the oil fire, and together, Ray and Emil safely land on a beach in Morocco. Here, Ray learns the truth about Emil: Agent Miller is Emil’s daughter, and she used the cover of a CIA agent to fool Ray and his team. Emil’s real name is Victor Mannheim. Long story short, Mannheim was supposed to be Emil’s boss/primary connection for help on the outside, so Emil as Rottmayer was just a cover. And Miller gave Ray the codename “Portos” to alert Mannheim of Ray’s presence as an ally.

Rottamyer as Mannheim is a surprising twist, but I wouldn’t call it shocking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I saw this coming, because I didn’t. BUT after all the trickery and clever deception, I was expecting a bigger bang for Escape Plan’s final set of twists. I was hoping for a lobster dinner with steak on the side, but instead, I got fresh pepperoni pizza.

Remember Clark? Clark was offered an annual five million dollar salary to keep Ray stuck in The Tomb for the rest of his life. Of course, Clark hid this information from everyone else. Towards the end, Clark tries to escape with all the money, but Hush catches him in a parking garage. Hush is able to capture Clark, and he locks Clark in his car………and the car is stuck in a container on a departing cargo ship. The last moments of the movie feature a desperate and frantic attempt at an escape from Clark, while Clark is cursing Ray’s name. This scene put a smile on my face. Why? Because Clark was a snaky, backstabbing little weasel, and he finally got what he deserved in the end.

In a lot of ways, Escape Plan caught me off guard. I was expecting a loud and over the top action flick with a bunch of explosions and cheesy one-liners from Arnie and Sly (well, you’ll hear some one-liners, but they never reach the point of overkill). Instead, Escape Plan is a crafty prison-break thriller with a few satisfying twists, and the action sequences are enjoyable. The duo of Stallone and Schwarzenegger should provide the necessary nostalgia kick for action fans, because I had a good time watching the old warhorses team up for a risky fight. It’s hard to ignore the eye rolling preposterous moments here, but if you’re looking for some good fun with two action legends, Escape Plan won‘t disappoint you.

Rating: 7/10

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