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Film Review: Escape Plan

Phuket: Halfway into watching Escape Plan, it's easy to find yourself thinking – “where are Jet Li, Jason Statham and the rest of The Expendables cast?”

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Tuesday 29 October 2013, 09:56AM

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Amy Ryan

Running Time: 115 Minutes

Rating: 2 Stars

For starters, just like in Stallone’s ageing action star franchise, ‘Rambo’ and Arnie play nothing more than older versions of themselves.

That said, though the film is expectedly rife with cheesy one liners, predictable plot points, and over-the-top explosions, Escape Plan was slightly more enjoyable than this reviewer had originally though it would be. Plus, Arnie actually speaks German!

The film revolves around Ray Breslin (Stallone), who makes a living breaking out of maximum security prisons to test their ability to keep inmates locked up.

The CIA contracts Breslin to test the security of a private prison that was designed to hold the world's most notorious inmates.

Inside, he meets Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), a criminal with ties to a tech wizard bent on ruining the world banking system. The duo decide to help each other to escape.

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Destined to become a Sunday “movie of the week,” the film brought out some great supporting actors that gave a credible air to a film that otherwise would have none.

We have Jim Caviezel (Count of Monte Cristo, Thin Red Line) as an understatedly evil warden who designed the prison using a book that Breslin wrote on detaining prisoners.

Amy Ryan (Green Zone; Win Win) and rapper Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson (Righteous Kill; All Things Fall Apart) are part of Breslin's crack espcaes team, while Vincent D'Onofrio (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys; Fire with Fire) is Breslin's business partner.

Though violence plays a role in much of the story, humour is peppered all throughout. One memorable scene places Schwarzenegger and Caviezel in the same room, where the former bodybuilder draws a “map” and ends up insulting his antagonist. Trust us, it’s funnier than it sounds.

Schwarzenegger, who began his Hollywood career in Conan the Barbarian by uttering almost no words, actually has the chance to portray some acting chops in his native German language.

Though it is a rather nonsensical scene, it was still nice to see 'The Governator' give it a shot knowing full well that people would react negatively no matter what (critics in Germany have accused of him of speaking German with an American accent, which is rather ironic since he’s known for his signature German-accented English).

Though comparisons with The Expendables are inevitable, Escape Plan uses far less self-parody and leans towards being a serious action movie, harkening back to 1980s action movies that feature a wide array of seemingly insurmountable obstacles that take only smarts and good-timing to overcome.

In the end though, it just can’t quite break away from the pull of its ageing lead duo.

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