Friday, October 11, 2013

Review of ESCAPE PLAN: Unexpectedly Smart and Entertaining

October 11, 2013

I went in to watch "Escape Plan" with very low expectations, not knowing anything of the plot, prepared not to like it. But surprisingly, this film turned out to be very engaging and fun to watch after all. 

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a Houdini of jails, having the ability to escape even the highest of high security enclosures. He finds himself locked up in The Tomb, an unofficial prison facility whose problematic heinous inmates are meant to "permanently disappear". In this technologically advanced and remotely isolated prison, Breslin's escaping skills will be put to the ultimate test.

Sylvester Stallone still delivers his lines as garbled as ever, but he looks good for his age, and has not lost his charisma as an action star. He managed to be quite credible in playing such an incredibly-skilled individual. We are ready to suspend disbelief and accept that he can do the impossible. Hey, that is Stallone on that screen!

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a German inmate named Rottmeyer, who befriends Breslin and becomes his escape partner. Arnie plays it light here, with his acting so typically awkward and actually funny, but we know and love him in this tongue-in-cheek style of his.  

Jim Caviezel is very intense as Hobbes, the warden of this special prison, as well as its proud designer. He will go to all extremes to prove that his prison is escape-proof. Caviezel's career seemed to have taken a dip after "The Passion of the Christ" and that is unfortunate after the limits he pushed with that memorably emotional performance. He is sadistically good here in a potentially one-dimensional antagonist role.

It was very good to see Sam Neill on screen again, also after what seems to be a long absence. He plays the prison physician here faced with a moral dilemma.

The story telling by Swedish-born director Mikael Håfström is well-paced and actually quite exciting. The set design of the prison was very high- tech, and well thought of. That version of solitary confinement was harsh! The escape sequences seemed logically planned and were thrillingly executed. The revelation scenes are very well-staged and that is only how far I'm going to describe them so you won't be spoiled with the many surprises this film has in store for you. 

Recommended for those looking for a good, entertaining and unexpectedly smart action film. You may think you already know how it all ends, but the road it took to get to that ending is quite an enjoyable ride. I had a really good time watching this. 7/10.

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