Rocky and Terminator: Retirement Plan.
A man who analyzes prison weaknesses by escaping from them is imprisoned in one of his own creations by people who want him disappeared. Now he’s gotta do it for reals!
Former rivals, now old pals, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up in ESCAPE PLAN, a brawling actioner that never strays too far from all those prison-escape beats that keep us popcorning; incarcerated under false pretenses, kidnapped and taken off the grid, dick-measuring fights, inter-jail gangs, sadistic warden, bully guard, warring jail factions cooperating for the escape plan, and of course, Getting To The Chah-Pah! Formulaic, yes, but dare I opine, guilty pleasure.
Stallone is escape expert Breslin, who is offered a job to escape a black site, that raises all the red flags. His team (coordinator Amy Ryan, and hacker Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent) warn him against it, but his boss (Vincent D’Onofrio, treacherous as always) sends Breslin in. We would find out later he was paid off to make Breslin disappear.
By the time Breslin realizes he’s been set up, he’s already been kidnapped and thrown into a Perspex madhouse, his locator chip destroyed, and the warden denying he knows anything about his escape analyst job. The icy warden is Jim Caviezel, the son of God himself (!) – no wonder he’s so eeevil – voice never rising above a whisper, even when distraught or angry, which makes him more chilling. Warden designed this extreme prison consulting Breslin’s own book on the subject.
Vinnie Jones is head guard – of COURSE he’s a sadist. Sam Neill is the prison doctor – of COURSE he’s a sympathetic accomplice. And Schwarzenegger is inmate Rottmayer – of COURSE he forms a begrudging alliance with Breslin.
Faran Tahir is Javed, the prison muslim insurrectionist; he’s the modern go-to Arab Guy (IRON MAN, ELYSIUM, STAR TREK 2009); once it was Art Malik, now – this guy. In his final touching sacrifice, Javed would whisper to Caviezel, “allah ackbar” (“god is great”), before Caviezel shoots him in the head, with the retort, “Yeh, whatever.” Maybe he was mad that Javed was praising the wrong god?
On the inside, the hardest plot point to believe is that prison expert Breslin trusts Rottmayer so quickly, blabbing his escape plans to Rottmayer less than a week after being incarcerated. Movie is depending on us believing that Arnold is a good guy because he’s Arnold (and we’re right, of course – same reason they hired the other stars, for their well-known character traits).
Stallone looks as puffy as a puffer fish, while Arnold is aging better, with a grand little goatee. Remember back in the 80s when these two were invincible? Yet every time they get into a brawl here, I’m flinching that they’re gonna hurt their knee or break their wrist… They escape, of course, after the Doctor remembers his oath to aid aging action stars, after a climax fight between Vinnie and Sly, after Jesus is sent to a fiery fate, and after Arnold gets to the chah-pah. And Vincent D’Onofrio gets his comeuppance more painfully than when a raptor bit off his arm.