Now available on Blu-ray is director Mikael Håfström’s action-thriller, Escape Plan. The story centers on Ray Beslin (Sylvester Stallone), a security expert who specializes in breaking out of prisons. When he signs on for a new job, Breslin finds himself incarcerated in the most inescapable jail he’s ever faced, one that’s run by a sadistic warden (Jim Caviezel) and designed to trump all of Breslin’s tricks of the trade. In order to make it out alive, he’ll need help from his friends on the outside, as well as a new ally on the inside (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Amy Ryan, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Sam Neill, and Faran Tahir, Escape Plan is a fun throwback action film that uses the stars’ brains over brawn to come out on top. Fans of Stallone and Schwarzenegger may be pleasantly surprised to find the duo puzzling their way out of a tight spot rather than merely shooting through any opposition (though there’s a bit of that too, of course). Hit the jump for my review of Escape Plan on Blu-ray.
Håfström opens up Escape Plan with a spotlight on Stallone’s Breslin, establishing the character as a guy who’s not only tougher than everyone else in the prison yard, but smarter, too. As Breslin MacGyvers his way out of a correctional facility with apparent ease, the question we’re left with isn’t can he escape the inescapable, but rather why he chooses to do so. This added wrinkle to Breslin’s character is just a hint of things to come, because Escape Plan isn’t as straightforward as the high-concept logline might indicate. There are twists and turns aplenty, some smarter than others, but all entertaining.
In their heyday, Stallone and Schwarzenegger would have simply fought and shot their way through any concrete wall that stood between them and freedom, and they likely would have done it alone. Now, the two are forced to work together, not only on screen for the first time in an extended capacity, but within the context of the story itself. Breslin knows how to find a prison’s weak points (even if its escape-proof design was based on his own writings), while Schwarzenegger’s Rottmayer knows the ins and outs of the guards and inmates. At times the plot gets a bit muddled and repetitive (how many cafeteria fights and riots do you really need?) but for the most part it clips along at an entertaining pace. Fans of Stallone and Schwarzenegger should definitely add Escape Plan to their collection, while fans of the genre in general should at least give this one a rent. The only technical demerit I’d give the Blu-ray is an audio level that had to be turned way up on my system to hear the dialogue, but your mileage may vary. I’d give the overall feature a B score; you can check out Matt’s review here for a different take.
The special features don’t make this one a must-buy, but they do add an extra bit of value with behind-the-scenes commentary from two of history’s greatest action movie stars. A breakdown of what’s included follows below.
Executing the Plan: The Making of Escape Plan (~20 minutes) – Commentary from stars Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Caviezel; producers Mark Canton, Kevin King-Templeton and Randall Emmett; director Mikael Håfström; and screenwriter Miles Chapman, on the script-to-screen process of making Escape Plan, pairing Stallone and Schwarzenegger on screen, selecting Hafstrom to direct, creating the prison, and franchise plans. Fun fact: at one point, Sly was eyed to play the warden.
Maximum Security: The Real-Life Tomb (~20 minutes) – A history of prisons and the criminals that populate them, with commentary from experts in the field. There’s a cool look at practical versus Hollywood prison technology.
Clash of the Titans (~15 minutes) – Schwarzenegger and Stallone talk about their history together, working on The Expendables, their competitive natures, and finally collaborating on screen. Commentary also includes co-stars Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
Deleted Scenes (11)