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Movie review: ‘Escape Plan’

Escape Plan

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Amy Ryan, 50 Cent

Rated: R (violence, strong language)

Running time: 112 min.


Posted 4:51pm on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013

R (violence, strong language): 112 min.

Stallone was always a better actor than Schwarzenegger. That burning question, for those old enough to have asked it and deluded enough to have never figured it out, is answered once and for all in Escape Plan, a vintage prison escape movie in the classic Sly and/or Arnold mold.

They’re both in it, both locked up and both looking for a way out of a superprison that has all the escape-proof conveniences that private enterprise can cook up. The old pros hit their marks, and each other. They spill some blood and have theirs spilled.

Sly takes a few beatings and hunts for that one epic brawl with a bad guy, a guard played by Vinnie Jones. Ah-nuld finally speaks German in a Hollywood film in a long, deranged rant and tracks down the biggest gun available.

A few one-liners and catch-phrases — “You hit like a vegetarian!” — and there you have it, Sly or Arnold in their heyday, in a nutshell.

Director Mikael Hafstrom is at his best studying his stars and their surroundings in extreme close-ups. We catch the details Ray (Stallone) does, only to figure out later what those details mean to him. The action arc here is predictable. But the standard prison-issue fights in the “yard” (indoors) or mess hall are handled well. The Islamic bad guy (Faran Tahir of Elysium) has dimensions even as the head sadist (Jones) doesn’t.

The bonding scenes between Ray and the big, friendly Teutonic terror Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) are clumsily written but have their amusing moments. The heroes have great hair and makeup. And the escape plans have a pleasant dose of MacGyver about them.

Villains are a tad too obvious and the finale you can see coming from miles off. And 50 Cent is still a terrible actor, though he’s now sporting Hollywood dentistry.

So yeah, it’s undemanding. But the tempered violence, the nature of the villains, the easy bonhomie of our leads and a cast peppered with great supporting players make Escape Plan go down easier than the other Rambo/The Last Stand/ Expendables pictures that brought these two aged action stars back from the dead.

— Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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