Cert: 15 / 115 mins / Dir. Mikael Håfström
So let me get this straight, my local will show the movies with Arnie and Sly in them together, but not the ones they make separately? There's clearly a line between the two that's not being crossed by their solo work. I suppose it's because they're little-known indie actors? Ah well. Anyway…
Escape Plan is as 'Saturday night' as they come; all muscles, glaring and shouting. No hunks in sight, just a bunch of gnarly middle-aged*1 men, ready to knock the shit out of each other in the name of cinematic adrenaline. And viewed on those terms, it works well. The film's not trying to be a game changer, it's just giving Mr. S and Mr. S a well deserved break from the knucklehead characters they're used to playing. The guys actually have a coherent script to read for once, they pull it off, and it's very welcome.
All things considered, it's standard double-cross-thriller fayre, but executed with enough conviction to be very watchable throughout, and could well have been a lesser film in other hands. Amy Ryan and Fifty Pence*2 put in decent roles as Sly's contacts on the outside, but are ultimately reduced to exposition-bearers, as all the action's taking place at the prison. The same goes for Sam Neill who stars ably as the prison doctor, and whose part seems to have been reduced after the part was written, somehow. I definitely wanted to see more of all these characters, but with already 'adequate' runtime of just under two hours, that wasn't to be.
There's a feeling early on that the film wants to be an episode of Hustle, although this subsides as the action increases. It would have been nice to have kept riding that wave (like Now You See Me does), but it's no great hardship; it's there to wind up the machine so we can enjoy it playing itself out.
Undemanding without being stupid, entertaining without resorting to slapstick, Escape Plan is the direction that messrs Stallone and Schwarzenegger need to be pushing their careers in, not the live-action cartoons of wisecracking mercenaries. Best enjoyed with a beer in your hand, so you may want to wait for that BluRay?
It's nice on the big screen, but that's not essential for enjoying it.
More than likely, yes.
I thought I heard one buried in there, but it was in an explosion which didn't require the sound of someone screaming alongside it, so I'll go with no.
That bit when Sly's in solitary and we see the camera looking down on him. Why doesn't that shot show his bunk? It's there in the in-cell shots, but the ceiling view has it missing. And it's not the overhead grille blocking it out, because you can see the walls clearly. Come on, Summit Entertainment, why oh why oh why etc?
*1 You're right, I am being kind, there.
*2 Yes, I am hilarious.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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