Blu-ray Review: Escape Plan

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Mikael Håfström | CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Amy Ryan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Jim Caviezel
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE:
2/4/2014 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack $39.95, DVD $29.99
BONUSES: commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes
SPECS: R | 115 min | Action thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes):
Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

Escape Plan has more holes than the porous Federal lock-ups that prison security expert Ray Breslin is paid the big bucks to break out of. Despite that, the heavily promoted but largely ignored pairing of Sylvester Stallone (Bullet to the Head) and Schwarzenegger (The Last Stand) is passable, large-scale cinematic fun.

Breslin (Stallone) takes on an assignment to test the security of a CIA facility designed to make the worst of the worst “disappear”—think Guantanamo Bay but without Congressional oversight. Sadly, someone wants Breslin disappeared (for murky reasons that are revealed later), so all of his protocols, contacts etc. for a secret shopper-like reveal are out the window. That business card with your security company’s credentials on it? Worthless here.

Escape Plan movie sceneEnter Ah-nold as inmate Rottmayer, who holds prized information about yet another terrorist that the evil Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel, TV’s Person of Interest) is desperate to siphon out of him. Rottmayer has just enough institutional knowledge to help Breslin escape, and he warms Breslin for mercurial reasons. But underneath it is Rottmayer’s own desire to bust out of this “unbreakable” facility.

The visual appeal of Escape Plan can’t be argued, as the prison’s clear glass, pod-like cells are suitably hopeless, its Taser-wielding guards (reminiscent of those in Lucas’s THX-1138) chillingly menacing. And the pairing of its two megastars is appealing, despite being hindered by some awful dialogue (Rottmayer: “Last time they killed a guy in there, they let his body rot for three days. Oh, and they cancelled the prison dance.”)

It’s the logic – or rather, illogic – of it all that’s most troubling. Nebulous motivations, leaps in reasoning, and good old-fashioned physical impossibilities, along with writing contrivances that seem to scream “Look how clever I am!,” make this an ultimately mediocre film.

It’s a great sounding one though, with an exceptionally powerful and focused DTS 7.1 mix. Watching at night, with some members of the household sleeping, I had to keep one finger on the volume control, and that’s only so effective in combating the on-screen clamor.

The complement of extras here is fairly standard. An audio commentary by director Mikael Håfström and co-writer Miles Champman makes for easy listening, and helps fill in some of the holes. Beyond that, we get a 22-minute making-of, a featurette on the teaming of two action icons  (Guess what? The had a competitive relationship during their careers!) and, most interestingly, a look at real-life maximum security prisons, during which the experts basically come out and say much of what’s in the movie is hogwash.

Yes, Hollywood and Escape Plan play fast and loose with real life. But don’t let that dissuade you from breaking out this actioner for a pleasant enough escape when there’s nothing else on.

 

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About Gary

Gary Frisch has been contributing laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray reviews to Video Business magazine, Home Theater Magazine, Home Theater Buyer’s Guide, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and the DVD Guide for more than 14 years. He still has a collection of more than 40 laserdiscs, along with a working auto-reverse LD player, but thinks Blu-ray is da bomb and anxiously awaits the original Star Wars trilogy so he can buy it for the fifth time.