I counted six one liners in the Stallone/Schwarzenegger film 'Escape Plan.' I was hoping for more, and when it came to Schwarzenegger's big moment to deliver the goods, they must've hired a three year old scribe, because his one-liner was pretty lame, as is much of this action thriller that finally has the two biggest action stars of the 80s together at last for an entire movie. Now, before we get into the good and bad of this film, let us first discuss the director, Mikael Hafstrom, who also directed the John Cusack vehicle 1408. But more interestingly, Hafstrom wrote a movie called 'Kopps,' which you can see a brief snippet of by CLICKING HERE (it’s required viewing to proceed with the review).
I mean, it's one of the best scenes in movie history, and this is what we are more or less dealing with in 'Escape Plan,' but less awesome. In what seems like reliving the glory days of the 80s action movies these iconic actors starred in, we follow Ray Breslin (Stallone), whose job is to be secretly arrested and put in the highest security prisons in America under a fake name, and attempt to escape, exposing the facilities' weak points, so that the government can fix them. And he's damn good at it too, his record is 14-0.
He wrote a book on his work and is one of the partners in a company that makes their money by doing this. His team tracks his every move and makes sure he is safe, even though they don't seem terribly plausible or real. The member include Amy Ryan, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, and Vincent D'Onofrio. These characters are lifeless and and could have been played by anyone. But when a strange young woman offers Ray and his company double their normal salary if he chooses to be incarcerated in a new beta prison system that is privately funded and completely off the grid. Well, he gets more than he bargained for, as he wakes up drugged, beaten, and trapped in this new prison.
This prison, which is large and full of multiple stories of glass boxes with masked guards always watching, is for the worst of the worst, where awful criminals don't stand trial but simply go to disappear. He soon enough meets Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), who takes an interest in Ray, as he notices him observing all of the guards routines, looking for any kinks in the system. After a fight between the two action stars, during which Schwarzenegger tells Stallone that he hits like a vegetarian, the two become pals and work together to escape, as it becomes clear that the Warden (Jim Caviezel), a sadistic man who is working with someone close to Ray to keep him in prison forever. With the warden's righthand man (Vinnie Jones), who seemed to only sign up for guard duty to break some skulls, and a physician (Sam Neill), who is scared to help anyone for fear of his life, it seems that Stallone and Schwarzenegger have their work cut out for them.
The movie drags on until we get to the final battle scene, where get a famous Schwarzenegger slow motion sequence where he finds his friend: a big machine gun, and literally kills over one hundred guards in a matter of minutes. There are a few twists and turns here and all of them you can see coming from a mile away.
Sure, this is a fun and entertaining film to a certain degree. I mean, it has our two favorite action stars from the 80s in it finally kicking butt together. The characters are one note, the dialogue is awfully bad, and the pacing is at times rough, but that being said, it’s great to see these two older actors still kicking butt and taking names. For the other actors in the film besides Caviezel, they surely only showed up for this to be in a film with these two action stars and nothing more. But hey, it's still a very fun action flick.
'Escape Plan' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The detail is very sharp with well-defined textures in the uniforms that show minute stitching. Closeups of the aging actors reveal some great wrinkles and their makeup blemishes nicely. During the few bigger CG scenes, the detail is a bit softer, but luckily the CG is out of the picture for most of the movie.
Colors seems to pop off screen during the first section of the film, but once Stallone is in the big bad prison, the colors seem to stick with blues, grays, and blacks. The black levels run deep and inky here with the skin tones running natural and smooth. There was no evidence of any banding during the film, although there was a scene where there was some minor aliasing on a suit jacket, but it was nothing to write home about. This is a solid video presentation.
This release comes with an impressive lossless DTS-HD 7.1 audio mix that sounds just as you would want it to sound. Loud, robust, and full of action. The sound effects are top notch here and pour constantly through the surrounds. The gunshots, and riots that break out sound clear and distinct as you can hear every hit and kick from every prisoner. The metal clanks and jail doors closing also sound amazing and will make you feel like you are in a giant prison.
Needless to say your rear speakers will get a decent work out here. Dialogue is always crystal clear, and despite the two main actor's accents, you can understand them quite well. The score always adds tot he suspense pretty well and never drowns out any of the dialogue or sound effects. And when the big action scenes happen with the major guns, things go from loud to louder with some good rumbling bass. This is a solid audio track.
'Escape Plan' is nothing great, but it's a lot of fun. We finally have Schwarzenegger and Stallone in an action movie together, where the two are the main stars. There are plenty of fights and action scenes to go around. And these aging actors prove they still have what it takes to make a fun movie. It's not the best action movie you'll ever see, but it's entertaining. The video and audio are top notch here with some excellent extras. If you have ever been a fan of these two action stars, this is probably worth a look.