Escape Plan review

If you were of filmgoing age in the 1980s, then everything about Escape Plan is positively pant-wetting. It’s a classic slab of Saturday night gleefully mindless fun. It’s gritty, funny and exciting. It’s high concept with a vein of 15 certificate violence. It pairs Stallone and Schwarzenegger. It drips with dumbly enjoyable one-liners. It’s got a bad guy who listens to classical music while pinning butterflies and other character traits straight out of Psycho 101. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s even got Jones as a violent prison guard.

Accordingly, the fact that it doesn’t make a whole heap of sense is less of a problem than it should be. Well, if you’re, for example, a 45-year-old bloke with happy memories of things like Lock-Up, Tango and Cash and Commando. If you’re slightly more discerning, or think that a film with two men who, to paraphrase Clive James, look increasingly like condoms filled with walnuts, sounds terrible, then stay away because you’ll hate it and find far too much to pick apart. But if you’re in the former camp, boy, do you have a fun Saturday night ahead…

Stallone plays Ray Breslin, the world’s leading designer of high security prisons. Sadly, this detail is kind of essential to the synopsis but also undermines the joyful “what-the-fu-“ nature of the opening. Breslin is offered a new job to test what’s supposed to be the world’s most secure prison facility. However, there’s a double cross afoot – yeah, big surprise right? – and instead of breaking out to highlight the prison’s weak spots, Breslin has to break out for real. Happily, he has an ally inside in the shape of Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), as well as a nemesis in head honcho Hobbes (Cavaziel), the sort of man who’ll waterboard for fun. Cue elaborate escape plan, snarled one liners, at least one ludicrous reveal…

And, if you can put all the nonsense to one side, you’ve got a treat in store. Sly and Arnie can do this sort of thing in their sleep but actually seem engaged with the sheer fun of the piece. Cavaziel, playing against type, also seems to be enjoying himself, while Vinnie… well, he’s like Statham: as good as he has to be, convincingly psychopathic and pretty damn critic proof. Escape Plan is big, noisy, dumb, stupid… and proper old-school entertainment.

Escape Plan at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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