Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have never actually starred in a movie together. True, Schwarzenegger had a small part in the Expandables movies, but the two have never really shared the frontline of a movie before. Scientists have theorized that the amount of resulting testosterone on the movie screen would be catastrophic. Luckily, someone decided to take the risk and combine these two epic action stars on the screen. While their energy is far better than the movie they’re relegated to, Escape Plan is at least good enough for a few laughs and a boner or two.
Ray Breslin (Stallone) is prison escape artist by trade; his job is to break out of maximum security prisons, finding their flaws so they can be rectified. He’s an expert at his craft, which is why the CIA approaches him to test out a brand new, off-the-books prison. Of course, it’s a double-cross, and Breslin finds himself cut off from his worried employers and the rest of the world. While inside, however, he finds a man named Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), who is surprisingly eager to know Breslin and help him with anything. The two being working together to break out of the most secure and brutal prison in the world, run by none other than…Jesus Chr—I mean, Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel).
It’s not totally intelligent, but at the very least Escape Plan is an engaging prison break movie with some fun ideas and a marginally clever plot. Each new piece of Breslin’s plan is more intricate than the last, and there’s a lot of fun to be had in seeing him and Rottmayer set it into motion. Part of the fun is how Rottmayer’s role generally involves him busting some skulls and creating a diversion while Breslin goes to work, but seeing the men play off each other is more entertaining than seeing your ex get shot in the vagina. And there’s still plenty of room for the action, as well; from more prison fights than you can shake a shank at, to one cool as fuck moment towards then end where Arnold just unleashes hell on the bad guys, this movie hits satisfyingly hard.
Jim Caviezel finally gives us a pretty great villain with Warden Hobbes. It’s funny, as Caviezel is perhaps best known as playing Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and here he plays a total asshole that calls people “fucker,” waterboards Arnold Schwarzenegger, and shoots a Muslim. Still, his performance is appropriately evil, and he hits most of the bad dude notes by wearing crisp suits and mounting butterflies while listening to classical music. Only a real motherfucker does shit like that.
If only it had gone just a bit farther with the cheese. Escape Plan feels distinctly like it wants to be a corny 80s movie, but it doesn’t push it hard enough to get there. The punches aren’t hard enough. The explosions aren’t big enough. The dialogue just isn’t quite corny enough (though it’s completely awesome to hear Arnold tell Sly “You hit like a vegetarian”). The final act is loaded with some of that cheese, including one beautifully abysmal line from Rottmeyer, followed by an equally terrible one from Sly. But why couldn’t we have the good stuff all through the film? This isn’t free porn.
There are a good number of plot holes and concessions made for the sake of the movie. There’s also a weirdly shoehorned message about prison privatization that just kind of…sits there. And a mysterious supporting character that will do things to the global economy, and the secret villain that wants to take him down but will do so after making sure Breslin never escapes from prison. Breslin is also a Super Ultra Bill Nye Science Genius who uses heat conduction, designs a compass and other science shit to break out, which was kind of cool, but felt sort of out of place and ruined the tension knowing that Breslin was always the smartest guy in the room.
Also, the heroes figure out which side of the equator they’re on by which direction the water goes down the drain. Is that still a thing?
Prison sounds scary (all glass walls? How do you masturbate?), but Sly and Ahnuld make it fun. They and Caviezel, as well as additional players Vinnie Jones and Sam Niel, all seem to be in on the joke, and chew the scenery and overact appropriately…almost. It’s just not quite enough to be the truly demented homage it could have been. It’s still a decent time at the movies, however. Just don’t expect any Cobra boners or Terminator ragers.
Take a Drink: Whenever someone starts a fight
Do a Shot: Each time you can’t understand Schwarzenegger
Do a Shot: Whenever Schwarzenegger makes that noise (you know the one)
Take a Drink: Every time Warden Hobbes does something Jesus wouldn’t do.