Thursday, October 24, 2013
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.
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