It seemed like a great idea. Take two of the biggest box office giants of their time and pair them up in a movie. It happened almost three decades ago when Warner Brothers teamed up Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in the period comedy, “City Heat.” Now it’s happening again as two of the biggest action stars of all time share top billing in the new drama “Escape Plan.”
While sitting in his prison cell Ray Breslin (Stallone) gets the heads up from a fellow inmate – watch your back in the yard. Later that afternoon he takes action and finds himself in solitary confinement. He promptly escapes. That’s his job. Ray isn’t a criminal. He’s the world’s foremost expert in confinement facilities. Governments hire him to test their latest prisons, placing him inside without the knowledge of the warden or staff. Ray runs a successful security company with his partner Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio). The two are visited by a representative of a US government agency. There is a new prison that has been built to house the nastiest criminals ever assembled in one place. A prison that no one knows exists. For giving it a look Ray will receive $5 million. Piece of cake.
Fun to watch, “Escape Plan” is pretty much what you would expect with the first time teaming of Sly and Arnold (the “Expendables” films don’t count). Once inside Breslin makes the acquaintance of Swan Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger). A trial friendship grows as Ray does his best to find a weakness in the system. The place is run by a sadistic warden named Hobbes (Jim Caviezel). After a quick dose of Hobbes punishment Ray reveals himself to Hobbes, who sneers back and refuses to accept his story. Enjoy your time behind bars, Ray. You’re never getting out.
Director Halstrof, who also did “The Rite” and “1408,” has crafted a simple, fun action film that should entertain fans of both leads. Both stars have some fine moments, alone and together. Both Stallone and Schwarzenegger gained their popularity by kicking ass and saying little, only taking the time to blurt out the occasional quotable line or two. They are joined in their breakout plans by Faran Tahir, the Islamic leader of a rival faction of inmates who decides that teaming up with Sly and Arnold is better then praying to a sun he never gets to see. The stars have fun with their surroundings and with each other and some of their predicaments and situations are pretty amazing, as is the film itself. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another three decades for the actors to team up again.