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Escape Plan - The Review

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I had no burning desire to see Escape Plan, the new action thriller starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

However, when it's your day off and it looks like the best thing on offer at your local multiplex, it may as well be worth a look.
And it is.

Sly is Ray Breslin, an expert on prison security.
He tests the integrity of prisons by becoming an inmate and then attempts to break out, thereby exposing any weakness in the security.

More often than not Ray succeeds, and gets a fat pay cheque.
However, when he is asked to test out a new maximum security stockade, Ray can't resist, and soon regrets it.

The tracker planted inside him is soon removed, and an abducted Breslin loses contact with his colleagues in the outside world before being locked up.
(Let's face it, it wouldn't be much of a movie if he managed to break out in the next 10 minutes).

Our hero soon incurs the wrath of psycho prison warden (there is always one) Willard Hobbs (Jim Caviezel) and his right-hand man/henchman Drake (Vinnie Jones).
I fear we'll have a long wait to see Vinnie play Hamlet, but when it comes to playing nutcase thugs, Jones is in a league of his own.

While making assorted enemies on the inside, Ray befriends unhinged inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnie).
Schwarzenegger
has a ball with this movie. Whether ranting in his native language, or coming out with some salty, over-the-top one-liners, he is clearly better as a supporting actor these days than carrying his own film. Maybe he should keep the empowering goatee; it's a fine facial addition to the Austrian Oak.

For the first two thirds, Escape Plan is great fun. The one thing that's missing is the generic shoot out we have come to expect from two of the biggest stars of 80s action cinema.

In fact, the lack of gunfire is rather welcome, as is the presence of Sam Neill as a morally conflicted doc, and the ever reliable Faran Tahir (Elysium, Iron Man) adding gravitas to the testosterone-laden proceedings.

So by the time the third act kicks in, director Mikael Hafstrom resorts to action movie type by giving Sly and Arnie high powered weapons, and opting for the usual cliches of shootouts, gunfire and witty epithets when villains are killed.

Escape Plan, formerly known as The Tomb, might not be the sort of film you're desperate to rush out and see on day one. However, when it's released on Blu-ray, chances are it will shift truckloads of units.

(The fact I have been quoting one of Arnie's one-liners all week is testament to the fact it's great fun).

The leads won't win Oscars for Best Actors, and the script won't win Best Screenplay, but who cares?
For those of us weaned on First Blood and The Terminator, this is a must see, whether on the biggest screen possible, or on your TV in a a few weeks' time.

Let's hope the pumped up pensioners return soon, maybe in a comedy remake of The Sunshine Boys or Grumpy Old Men.
Pension Plan wouldn't be too bad a title.

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