Thursday, October 24, 2013


So it is finally here and despite my high hopes, Escape Plan opened to shitty box office and mediocre reviews. It was nice to see, however, critics were less snobby and had less of their head in their arse than when it came to earlier action films The Last Stand and Bullet To the Head.

The film, like the trailer showed, is basically about Stallone's character, Ray Breslin who is an expert at breaking out of prisons. He runs a company with, clean-freak, Vincent D'Onofrio and, his cohorts in the getting out of clink business, Amy Ryan and Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson. They test the security loop holes in maximum security jails for the government.
When Sly is double crossed and winds up in 'The Tomb', a seemingly, impenetrable, hi-tech fortress run by butterfly-fancier, waistcoat stroking and dead-eyed company man Jim Caviezel, he forms an unlikely partnership with bearded Arnold Schwarzenegger and some others around him, to break out and get revenge. Throw in an odd 'wait is that Sam Neil?' cameo and bullet headed, rubber suited-rent-a-guard Vinnie Jones and you have yourself the sort of high-concept storytelling and set up for kick ass fights and explosions that we just don't get enough of anymore.

It's a strong plot, an awesome set up and the script is pretty good by similar, action film standards. The supporting cast, possibly the oddest mix of character actors and c listers ever assembled outside of a bad 2000s Christmas movie, veer wildly from being very dependable to odd and interesting, sadly taking in bland and awful any time Ryan or Jackson are on the screen. Ryan's banter back n forth with Stallone, in particular, is creaky and painful but the fault may lie, equally, with the slow and sloppy editing (more on that later).  I am not sure what Jim Caviezel is doing but he has decided that daintily painting a dead butterfly or slinking around in a tailored three-piece spitting out lines in a way that, I suppose, is meant to be threatening but comes off like he's being all sultry and trying to tongue fuck the leads, equals a cool and mesmerising villain. It doesn't quite but it's ok, passable and suitable to the genre at hand.
What you've really come to see though and what doesn't disappoint is Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Scwarzenegger. Watching them on the big screen is an unrivalled joy. That critics dismiss them and audiences ignore them is a crushing shame. People can't see past the baggage of their former careers and want to make every new film they do some how a comment on that, a throw back to that or unfairly compare it to the 'good old days'. This is to do Escape Plan, Bullet To The Head, The Last Stand etc. a massive disservice. Both of them still have the action ability, the star charisma and the acting skill in bucketfuls. I even think Schwarzenegger is a better actual actor now than he was in his heyday. In Escape Plan he imbues his character with a wonderful sense of humour, mischief, energy and intelligence that's not on the page. In Escape Plan they play real rounded characters with little to no nodding or winking at the camera and it's an absolute pleasure to see them work together both as actors on the screen and as characters in the story. Schwarzenegger has the bulk of the showy/stand-out scenes and Stallone does the running, climbing, punching dependable guy with sorrow and intelligence behind those famous heavy eyelids.

Then you get to the action. It's a little unfortunate that this film packs 90% of its gleeful, old school, shoot 'em up, beat 'em up, crash bangery into the last 20mins but when it arrives it is enjoyable, air punching, explosive moment after moment. It doesn't let up and it delivers like a milkman with a huge erection and a pint of cold cream. How can you hate on a film where Arnie tears an enormous gun off a helicopter, turns round in slow motion and fires off a thousand bullets into a group of electronic-sex-gimp looking, futuristic prison guards? it's simply not possible.

The reason Escape Plan doesn't quite hit the highs it might have done, is solely at the feet of the director. There simply aren't many good action directors working today and if you wondered if the future of action was Mikael Håfström then sadly not. While not the worst offender Håfström just can't film a hand to hand combat scene as successfully as you would like and, also, his pacing leaves a lot to be desired. While I understand he has Rambo and The Terminator in a film together and probably felt intimidated to fuck, the film could just do with being tighter and more interesting/exciting through the first two thirds of the film. Think Sodderburgh's Ocean's Eleven, Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead or Robert Rodriguez's anything! All could've made some of the clunkier, earlier scenes really zing off the screen and with some judicious editing and a cinematographer that was awake and alert, who knows what could've been accomplished.
Ultimately, though, I settled in and the direction didn't really bother me because once Arnie and Sly get together, they grab the film, run it right down the pitch and score a big touchdown with it, laughing and firing guns in the air all the way.

While Escape Plan was not the tightly wound, action filled classic I was hoping for, it was a solid, enjoyable and entertaining film which delivered enough that I left the cinema shadow boxing and giddy as a school boy full of pudding. I put it on a par with Bullet To The Head and just behind The Last Stand for 2013 action films.

The disappointment is that because of audiences being 12 and idiots we might not get to see the likes of these enjoyable for enjoyments sake, throwback action movies much longer, so, if you're like us and you're a fan PLEASE go support this and others like it whenever and however you can.
- The Kick Ass Kid

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


So, Danny Trejo returns as MACHETE, for some it may not be great news, the first Machete movie was greeted with mixed opinion but I, for one, loved it.
Robert Rodriguez is one of, if not my favourite writer/producer/DP/directors working today. I’m sure the stroky chinned, scarf wearing critics see him as nothing special, he doesn’t make movies about people trying to become better people while helping out a crippled dwarf, all done in black and white with long meaningful gazes into the camera but to these people I say, fffffuck off!
Rodriguez makes movies about cool mofo’s in leather jackets who carry huge guns and bigger machete’s.
The plot of Machete Kills is simple, Machete is recruited by the President, played by newcomer Carlos Estevez (this boy will go far, with a little tiger blood) to go find Mendez who has missiles pointed at the White House. Machete agrees, with the promise of US citizenship. Along the way we learn of deceptions and meet outrageous villains, including The Chameleon who change their image everytime they kill someone. 

Mel Gibson plays Voz, the mastermind who built the missiles and is the one who can switch off said missiles after Mendez detonates the bombs to launch in 24 hours. Rodriguez has again created a great set of characters, with previous ones returning, notably Michelle Rodriguez who is a great female action star.
Hollywood stars still want to work with Rodriguez and Mel Gibson makes his debut in a Rodriguez pic as James Bond like villain Voz. Is he good? Hell yeah! he is perfect! He plays the role with glee. As listeners to the show will know, Gibson is one of my favourite action stars and I can seperate the personal and the star. From seeing him in Machete Kills, next year might just see Gibson give the Expendables the biggest run for there money yet. He clearly had the time of his life doing this part.
Everybody in fact looked liked they were along for the ride, including a certain pop star, Lady Gaga, a new ass kicker on the action movie scene? Why not. The beginning of the movie shows a trailer for forthcoming movie Machete Kills Space, so who knows. There is a further trailer at the end promising it again, I CAN’T WAIT.
I do hope that either on the DAATKAK pod or AMD we can put out a Rodriguez special or series, the man is a genius and while other directors say they want certain independence from the Hollywood system, this guy has acheived it on his own terms, with a self sufficient studio and using Hollywood money to make the movies he wants. When he can attract top stars why wouldn’t they?
Let’s not forget recent guest on the After Movie Diner William Sadler, as ever he is fantastic, playing the Sheriff with real steal and a hell of a handgun.
Go SEE IT!!!!!

- Dr.Action