Escape Plan

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ray Breslin is a former prosecutor who co-owns Breslin-Clark, a Los Angeles–based security firm specializing in testing the reliability of maximum security prisons. He spends his life getting into prisons to study their designs and the guards’ habits to find and exploit their weaknesses, thus enabling him to escape without a hitch or a victim. He claims his goal is to ensure that criminals sent to prison stay inside by eliminating the weakness of every prison.

One day, he and his business partner Lester Clark are offered a multimillion dollar deal by CIA agent Jessica Miller to test a top-secret prison and see if it is escape-proof. Breslin goes against all his own rules and chooses the money. He agrees to the deal and gets himself captured in New Orleans, Louisiana, under the guise of a Spanish terrorist named “Anthony Portos”, but the plan goes awry when his captors remove the tracking microchip from his arm and drug him on the way to the prison, which thus disables him from ending the experiment by proving his identity.

Breslin wakes up in a complex of glass cells with no outside windows to indicate the prison’s location. He meets fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer, and they both stage a fight for Breslin to study the solitary confinement cell, which uses high-powered halogen lights to disorient and dehydrate prisoners. Seeing that the cell floors are made of aluminum, but the rivets are steel, Breslin has Rottmayer procure a metal plate from Warden Willard Hobbes’s office floor before the both of them and Muslim inmate Javed are once again thrown into solitary. Using the metal plate, Breslin focuses the reflection from the lights to heat the rivets and pop open the floor panel to reveal a passageway below.

He goes through the passageway and discovers that the prison is inside a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean, making a simple escape impossible in case of a possible break down. Breslin and Rottmayer continue to study the complex by learning the guards’ daily routines, and Breslin gives Hobbes false information about Rottmayer’s boss, Victor Mannheim. Meanwhile, Breslin’s colleagues Abigail Ross and Hush grow suspicious of Clark when Breslin’s paycheck for the job is frozen. They discover from hacked documents that the prison, codenamed “The Tomb”, is owned by a for-profit organization linked to an unnamed privately owned security provider, and Clark was offered a US$5 million annual salary from them in exchange for keeping Breslin behind bars.

Back in the prison, Hobbes reveals to Breslin that he is aware of his identity, and with chief security officer Drake watching him, he wants to ensure that Breslin stays for the rest of his life in prison. Rottmayer has Javed convince Hobbes to bring him on deck to do his nightly prayer when he actually uses a makeshift sextant to get the ship’s latitude. Using the latitude and observations of the weather, Breslin and Rottmayer deduce that they are in the Atlantic Ocean near Morocco. Breslin visits the infirmary of Dr. Kyrie and convinces him to help him and Rottmayer escape by sending an email to Mannheim. Breslin then transmits a false tap code message from his cell, giving Hobbes the impression that a riot will occur in cell block C. With majority of the security stationed at cell block C, Javed instigates a riot at cell block A, giving him, Breslin, and Rottmayer time to run toward the deck while a lockdown is initiated.

Breslin kills Drake, but Javed is shot dead by Hobbes and his men during their escape. Breslin goes to the engine room to reboot the electrical systems, giving Rottmayer time to open the deck hatch while a helicopter sent by Mannheim engages in a gunfight with the ship’s crew. Rottmayer boards the helicopter while Breslin is flushed to the bottom of the ship by the automated water system. The helicopter picks up Breslin, but when Hobbes starts shooting at them, Breslin kills the warden by shooting and blowing up a group of oil barrels in front of him.

They land on a beach in Morocco, where Rottmayer reveals that he is actually Mannheim, Miller is his daughter, “Portos” was a codeword used to alert Mannheim that Breslin was an ally, and Hobbes was originally unaware that Breslin’s cover story was fake. Later, at a Moroccan airfield, Ross informs Breslin that Clark had fled, but Hush tracked him in Miami, and locked him in a container aboard a cargo ship.

REVIEW:

For the longest time, action fans have been wishing for the ultimate team up of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, the two most bankable action stars  arguably of all time (although, if they don’t watch their backs, Liam Neeson is going to take that title away from them, especially if Bruce Willis hasn’t already). While they are both in their late 60s, Escape Plan finally gives action fans their wet dream team up, albeit in an action thriller, rather than a Rambo vs. Commando type film that we all were hoping for.

What is this about?

Framed and thrown into an escape-proof prison that he designed himself, structural security expert Ray must use all his know-how to break out. Ray and a fellow inmate dodge the jail’s corrupt warden and guard to track down who’s behind the setup.

What did I like?

Prison. The prison that Stallone’s character ends up in is built from the mistakes other prisons that he has escaped from have made. The warden even makes an effort to not let him escape using methods he’s used before. The guy did his homework, but the point I’m trying to make here is that the prison is an impressive sight when we first see it. Immediately, I was reminded of Magneto’s plastic cell from the X-Men movies. There seemed to be a similar design on display.

JC and the Crew. Normally, movies that star Jim Caviezel aren’t my cup of tea. He tends to do more heavy drama stuff that I just don’t go for. That being said, he makes for a great villainous warden. The snarling facial expressions and utter disdain he has for everyone, especially Stallone makes him an antagonist that you will remember, as his strength is in his intellect, rather than muscles.

Concept. Earlier this year, I watched Escape from Alcatraz, which was a true story about inmates breaking out of Alcatraz, which was supposedly impossible to escape from. Stallone’s job is to make sure prisons have airtight security. The problem is when you’re this good at your job, someone is going to come and take you down, and that is how Stallone ends up in prison with no apparent way out. That is the kind of plot that draws you in and give the audience a bit of suspense wondering if he’ll get out or not.

What didn’t I like?

Payoff. Earlier, I mentioned how there was a big hoopla about Sly and Arnold finally starring in a film together, excluding The Expendables franchise. Had this been made when both guys were in their prime, there would have been guns, fights, and pretty much anything else that you can attribute to films these guys have made. However, because they have gotten up there in age, the genre this film is placed in, and various other factors, this wasn’t the big blowout that people would have liked. What I mean by that is that everyone would have liked for these two to slug it out, much like Vin Diesel and the Rock in Fast Five, but that isn’t what we got, leaving us to wonder why not.

Twist. There is a twist in the plot that isn’t exactly obvious, but you can figure it out if you just think. That isn’t my problem though. I take issue with the fact that the twist isn’t really built up enough. It is as if you’re going along knowing something is bound to happen, but it doesn’t actually happen until you very least expect it. A better buildup would have worked better than a brief mention followed by nothing until the end.

Answer the question. More than a few times, Stallone is asked, “What kind of man spends his life in prison?” I don’t believe he answered the question, but we did get a bit of a back story involving his previous career as a lawyer and his client double-crossing him, if I’m not mistaken. This is more a complaint about character development than anything else, especially since we learned about Stallone’s history, and yet no answer as to why he wants to spend the rest of his life in and out of prisons. I almost want to say it would have been better to just let him stay a mystery.

If you were looking for an action packed team up between Sly and Arnold, Escape Plan is going to severely disappoint. The thriller aspect of this film takes center stage more than the action and we don’t get much action from Schwarzenegger (Stallone does do his fair share of stunts).  After all the dust settles, the best way to determine what one really thinks about this film is to take out the major draws and see what you have left, which is not much of anything. Do I recommend this film? Only if you’re a fan of the acting of these two guys and I don’t really know anyone that fits into that category. Your best bet with this flick is to just catch it on television one day, if at all.

3 out of 5 stars

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