Rather than listen to political lefists get self-important in The Fifth Estate or watch smutty drug dealers in Runner Runner, I indulged in a bit of nostalgia and picked Escape Plan for my weekend’s movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone being some eighties-style chemistry to twenty-tens-level production values for a fun and entertaining action flick. For those of you who remember the eighties, think Tango and Cash and Shawshank Redemption with a side of MacGyver and you’ll have a pretty good feel for how this one plays out.
Neither Sylvester nor Arnold are unintelligent men, and it is nice to see two heavy weight-lifters playing intellectual heavyweights in the same film. Sylvester plays Breslin, the security genius who breaks out of prisons for a living. Arnold plays Rottmayer, a prisoner with secrets of his own to keep and the guts to hold on to them. They form an alliance of necessity in prison and the fireworks begin. Jim Caviezel does an excellent foil for the aging bodybuilders. He is neat, slender, and immaculate without losing one touch of menace. Internationally famous football hooligan Vinnie Jones provides the only unintelligent personality to walk on screen in the entire film. Sam Neill and Faran Tahir turn in solid supporting performances. Vincent D’Onofrio, who has carried some dramatic power in previous films, does phone his performance in. That is the only weak point of acting in the film.
The futuristic prison has sliding bulletproof glass panels, open stairs, and clever lighting. The guard’s uniforms, computer displays, and interior design work for the civilian world are all visually pleasant. This is simply a pretty movie with a story to tell instead of a special-effects budget to flash in our face. The story is well-plotted, logical, and progressive as it flows. This is the second Schwarzenegger film in the same year that has surprised me as a lot of fun.
There are some excellent lessons in this film: the value of an education, the role of brotherhood in preserving the spirit, actively engaging one’s environment, and more. The film isn’t deep, but it is clever and well worth the time.