If two stars ever needed a second chance at a comeback this year, it is definitely Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stallone’s Bullet to the Head made a mere $9 million domestically while Arnie’s The Last Stand only made $37 million worldwide against its $45 million budget. Considering these two used to be two of the top stars in the ’80s and ’90s, they definitely needed something to get their juices flowing at the box office. Seeing how Arnie made appearances in both Expendables films, it should come as no surprise to see them joining forces yet again in this weekend’s Escape Plan.
In Escape Plan, Ray Breslin (Stallone) makes his living escaping from federal prisons for the security firm he runs with his partner, Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio). After having just escaped from a Colorado prison, CIA lawyer Jessica Miller (Caitriona Balfe), offers Breslin $5 million to break out of a top-secret, privately funded prison. His associates Abigail Ross (Amy Ryan) and Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) don’t like the idea, but sure enough, Breslin is swept away to his new home inside “The Tomb,” run by Warden Willard Hobbs (Jim Caviezel). Now, Breslin must team up with fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) to figure out how to escape from the prison Hobbs designed based on the book that Breslin literally wrote.
Escape Plan just may wind up being one of the year’s most unnecessarily convoluted. Screenwriters Miles Chapman and Jason Keller spend so much time in the final scenes tying up loose ends that you forget where they came from. And for being marketed as an action film, there really isn’t too much action until we get to the end. It plays out more like a detective thriller with the Italian Stallion figuring out how to make his great escape. The “Governator” seems to be relishing another return to the big screen, making sure all of his one-liners are as hilarious as they used to be back in the golden days.
Stallone even makes Breslin one of his more likeable characters. He was never my favorite action star but he works very well playing off of Schwarzenegger. The only person who sticks out is Caviezel, who sucks the life out of every scene he’s in. Even Sam Neill, playing the doctor with a heart of gold, seems more natural to the story. Maybe if Caviezel had played Hobbs as more of an eccentric he would’ve worked, but I think we all know that kind of portrayal is out of his range. As it stands, director Mikael Håfström delivers the over-the-top action we want when the finale finally kicks in. With a running time of 116 minutes, I feared it would be way too long, but the pace manages to fly by. Escape Plan is a welcome return to form for both Stallone and Schwarzenegger.
Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment