If the Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger team-up “Escape Plan” had been released during the stars’ late-’80s action heyday, the film would have effectively been critic-proof. As it stands, early word about the movie is about an uneven as its script is purported to be.
The film, from “The Rite” and “1408″ director Mikael Håfstrom, sees Stallone’s security expert character, Ray Breslin, wrongly convicted and imprisoned in a high-tech, maximum security jail alongside fellow con Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson with Jim Caviezel as the sadistic warden (and Vinnie Jones as his lackey). To escape, Ray will have to do a little planning alongside wily criminal Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) in this sleek remix of Stallone’s other prison escape film, “Lockdown.”
The script is being described as the weakest part of “Escape Plan,” littered with subplots that go nowhere, and quip-heavy dialog straight out of the ’80s. Still, its two stars, just a few years short of their 70s, both remain imminently likeable, elevating the material.
“There isn’t a truly boring moment in the two-hour feature, nor is there anything massively cringe inducing a la ‘The Expendables.’ Though there is some camp, and a few moments of homage, they’re handled tastefully, if such a thing is possible in a prison film starring workout kings.” — Laremy Legel, Film.com
“…if nothing else, ‘Escape Plan’ is a reminder of why they became stars in the first place. Stallone remains the most charismatic grunter onscreen, and when Schwarzenegger picks up a machine gun, it’s like Jascha Heifetz picking up a violin: This is the instrument that made him famous, and he knows how to play it better than just about anyone.” — Keith Phipps, The Dissolve
Two Very, Very Old Pros
“After watching Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger get together for a couple of ‘Expendables’ missions, we concluded that while it’s fun to remember ’80s popcorn-movie thrills, fully recapturing those thrills might be impossible. These are overdue dream teamings — ideally, there ought to be a sensation of experiencing something that makes us lose our genre-geek minds with excitement. Instead, these throwbacks have been a case of, let’s face it, giving a free pass to OK-not-great guilty pleasures. They’re older, we’re older — what can you do?” — Tom Russo, The Boston Globe
“Precisely why director Mikael Håfström was picked for this gig remains a mystery: his CV is packed with stodgy horror flicks, and he has trouble marshalling a convincing action sequence.” — Tom Huddleston Time Out London
“The interplay in the screenplay, by Miles Chapman and Arnell Jesko, ping-pongs between banal and dumb, but this is still preferable to the incoherence of the final stretch, in which Ray spends most of his time in a vertical chamber that keeps filling with and then losing water while mayhem breaks loose on board.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“After some shticky ‘I’ll be back’ cameos in the ‘Expendables’ movies and a foray into ‘I’m too old for this crap’ Eastwoodery in The Last Stand earlier this year, Schwarzenegger is working with somewhat more familiar material here, and he’s funny, charming, and confident in equal measure. ‘The Last Stand’ was a decent movie, but here Arnold finally feels like the old Arnold again — even if he is, as noted, playing slightly against type.” — Bilge Ebiri, Vulture