If you are one to believe Sylvester Stallone (“Bullet to the Head”) can carry the role of a super-smart security expert then you are halfway to euphoria with his new film Escape Plan. If you’re not, surprisingly enough, the movie offers enough excitement for you to overlook that by continuing the recent trend of old guys forgetting names and kicking ass.
The other senior citizen laying out the bruises in Escape Plan is Arnold Schwarzenegger as Stallone’s unlikely ally. Stallone, you see, is Ray Breslin, the Harry Houdini to maximum security prisons. Basically, he — with some help from partners, Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio, “Sinister”), Hush (Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, “13”) and Abigail (Amy Ryan, “Win Win”) — gets paid obscene amounts of money to test their designs and escapability and he has yet to meet four walls that can contain him. Showing people their flaws makes for some powerful enemies so under the guise of testing the latest off-the-grid, state-of-the-art design known as “The Tomb,” Ray finds himself trapped and at the mercy of a comically over-the-top villainous warden (Jim Caviezel, “Transit” ) and his enforcer guard (Vinnie Jones, “Kill the Irishman”).
Just in time, Schwarzenegger (“The Last Stand”), as a hulking, calculating German prayer reciting inmate, comes along to befriend our hero. Together (interesting fact that these Stallone and Schwarzenegger never really starred in a movie together in all these years), they scheme, probe and unmask the gaudishly lit aluminum and glass labyrinth and those that work to keep them confined within it.
It’s here where Escape Plan stumbles thanks to abject stupidity and excels due to some good old fashioned 80’s era action. Although this takes place in a box that is supposed to be the most impenetrable conceived, Ray happens upon things too easily and everyone tasked with locking him down do exactly what they aren’t supposed to do. A necessary evil, I suppose, but one that could have easily been written better. Mikael Håfström — not exactly known for directing action — handles the task well, which basically means he gets out of the way of his two action stars and lets them do what they’ve been doing for 30 years.
And while both stars have their names atop the movie poster, Stallone is the star of the feature. The man still can’t successfully act his way out of a wet paper bag — not that he really has to in a movie like this — but he is nonetheless relatable and can still believably beat the living shit out of a guy half or three-quarters his age (which he is called upon to do more than once). Arnold, well he’s dragging ass a bit more than Sly, but he manages to get off a few of those heavily-accented zingers he’s adored for and tosses around a Gatling gun like he was a 40 year-old starring in “Predator” again.
Through their heydays Stallone and Schwarzenegger avoided each other and actively tried to one-up the other. I think now in their advancing age they’ll come to realize they need each other as Escape Plan is infinitely better than those half-baked solo efforts they did earlier this year. It’s also good enough to get me more interested in seeing these guys play together again in “The Expendables 3.”