Escape Plan Blu-ray Review
Sly and Arnold. Arnold and Sly. These two names are basically synonymous with big action films of the last 20-30 years. People clamored for them to work together. They got it in The Expendables films, but that was just an appetizer. They didn’t have many scenes together. ESCAPE PLAN fixes this problem. It is a brainier film than I expected and I was ultimately surprised at how satisfying it was.
Sylvester Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a security expert who specializes in breaking out of maximum security prisons. The prison system hires his security company to point out the flaws at their facilities. Ray is joined at his company by his partner Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onfrio), his right hand woman Abigail (Amy Ryan) and his tech guy Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). They all have their little parts to play in each escape.
Director Mikael Hafstrom has a nice style to his work. It is quite visual and it pops out on the screen. He used his skills to great effect for his previous work “1408”. This comes in handy when explaining how certain things are done at various points in the film. The two dimensional stuff that is displayed is great fun and not overused.
Ray is shown breaking out of a prison in the beginning. He is thorough with his preparation and he’s quite observant. He knows the pattern of the guards, what’s surrounding the prison and the various measures the prison uses to stop escapes. The motto that Rays uses in each escape is layout, routine and help. The warden is furious that this charade happened because he wasn’t aware of it. But I gather the whole point of Ray going into these prisons unannounced is for him to not get special treatment or any favors that will assist him in his plan.
Ray and his company cohorts are presented a new opportunity with big money involved. But this prison is a bit different. It is one of those prisons that doesn’t show up in any database and keeps the worst of the worst hidden away. CIA point person Jessica Miller (Caitriona Balfe) is in charge of the operation and she stresses the importance of keeping these bad guys tucked away from society. Abigail and Hush are a bit skeptical of the plan. Their concerns grow deeper when they are not given the location of the prison. They just know he will be picked up in New Orleans. Despite their reticence, Ray does accept the job. Well if he didn’t accept the job, there wouldn’t be a movie.
Ray gets picked up by a van and his tracking device taken out of his body. Ray gets drugged and transported by helicopter to his destination. His cover name is Anthony Portos, a bad ass terrorist from Spain. Ray knows he is in a bit of trouble when the warden does not know his fail safe code. Warden Hobbes is played by none other than Jim Caviezel, a long way from playing Jesus. Hobbes is a peculiar sort of a fella. He’s soft spoken, but forceful. He likes collecting butterflies, but also enjoys ordering the cracking of bones of his prisoners. Hobbes carries Ray’s book on security on his desk. The prison guards look like storm troopers with dark masks covering their faces.
The prison itself is impressive to look at. It is spacious with towering staircases and containers for the prisoners. In real life NASA used this area to build parts and such. It is lucky that the filmmakers found this and saved money in not having to construct something like it.
Here’s where the meeting of the two action titans take place. Arnold makes nice with Sly and says his name is Emil Rottmayer. Oh the names they come up with in this film. Emil states to Ray that the warden is trying to get vital information from him. He says he works for a man named Victor Mannheim, a Robin Hood type of figure who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. The identity of Mannheim is not important in the grand scheme of things. The name is put there as some mystery man that holds all the cards. But the fun part is that no one really knows who anyone is. The warden and Emil don’t know at first who Ray is. Ray is not sure what to believe in regards to the warden and Emil. And round and round it goes.
I was relieved that one liners don’t spew out constantly from Sly and Arnold. That got old fast from the last Expendables movie. It is also refreshing that there isn’t wall to wall action in the film. It’s more a thinking man’s film. Ray and Emil come up with various plans to find out where the heck they are and how to get out. Some of the plans are ingenious and others are just plain silly. But you never quite know what will happen next. That’s the fun part. There are some twists and turns throughout. There is one big reveal in the middle of the flick that was quite shocking.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some action to be had. It especially picks up in the end. One scene in particular where Arnold in slow motion grabs a machine gun is exhilarating. On this quest for freedom, Ray and Emil get others to help them out. There is a Muslim prisoner named Javed (Faran Tahar) who is an enemy at first, but is recruited for the cause. Ray gets beaten up a lot, so he is patched up by Dr. Kyrie (Sam Neill). Ray wears down Kyrie’s conscience until he agrees to help him. It’s really a nothing role for Neill, but maybe he wanted to work with these two action legends. That and money are the only reasons I can think of to why he took it.
ESCAPE PLAN is a fun ride of nostalgia with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It may not be their finest work, but it sure is enjoyable to see these two do what they do.
ESCAPE PLAN BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in 1080p High Definition 2:40:1
Audio: I had some trouble understanding the unique vocal patterns of Sylvester Stallone. Closed captioning is most useful in this instance.
Feature Commentary with Director Mikael Hafstrom and Co-Writer Miles Chapman: Informative commentary with these two men. They play off each other well and both ask probing questions to the other that provide some background.
Executing the Plan: The Making of Escape Plan (22:13): You find out from the filmmakers and the leads how the film is made. There are interesting stuff to learn like the locations and directing style of Mikael Hafstrom.
Maximum Security: The Real Life Tomb (21:57): Fascinating feature on the history of maximum security prisons and everything you wanted to know about them.
Clash of the Titans (15:34): This deals with the pairing of Stallone and Schwarzenegger.
Deleted Scenes (8:13): 11 scenes in all. This fills in the back story of some of the characters. We see more interaction between Ray and Emil. The supporting characters get more air time and the ending is explained more fully.