The Escape Plan

When watching “The Escape Plan” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, the first thing you are expected to do is relax and suspend your disbelief.  Going into this film I expected an action movie.  The reality is that I got more of a science fiction film.   If you go in looking at this as a science fiction film, it becomes significantly more enjoyable.

Let’s start by spoiling the film: One or more than one of the characters escape.

Now that we’ve addressed the elephant in the room, we can continue by looking at the movie’s merits.  First, the story has a little meat to it.  The scenarios portrayed in this movie, while unbelievable, are made to be believable in the universe being created.  In many ways, this universe is similar to the universe created by MacGyver in the 1980s.  Simply put, there is always a way out.  How you get out may be implausible but to a relaxed mind could be considered possible.  Many people are going to go into this film expecting hard core action adventure with a ton of explosions, death, and destruction.  What they are going to get is not that.  The movie is about Stallone’s character escaping from prisons as a career.  He is hired to go to an off the grid private prison and escape.  That is the over arcing plot.  From there things fall apart as any good sci-fi action heist film should.  Stallone’s character realizes he has been screwed over and has to adapt to the reality of the prison he is in, and figure out how to get out.  Schwarzenegger’s character is the buddy-buddy prisoner who goes out of his way to work with Stallone for some reason not immediately made clear.  From there the real story evolves through their unusual relationship which seems artificially rushed in the movie, but this itself is a plot point.

Let’s look at the positives:

  1. If you look at this as a science fiction and heist movie the mechanics of the universe can be accepted as plausible.
  2. The acting is not bad coming from the main cast.  Fans of CBS’ “Person of Interest” will find Jim Caviezel’s role as Hobbes to be disturbing as he shows emotions, as well as the character being evil.
  3. The movie creates a science fiction world that can be accepted by the viewer as a form of reality.
  4. The ending action payoff is 1980’s level action adventure fun.
  5. The story is actually intelligent and the characters are more than one dimensional.
  6. The rush to create the “buddy-buddy” between Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s character is actually explained in the movie.  It was nice to see the rush job of having to get characters to like and work with each other actually built in as a plot point of the film, albeit explained at the end.
  7. The torture scenes were effective in disturbing the viewer and giving them a sense of how “evil” the head of the prison is.  Trust me; you know the bad guy is bad.
  8. There are actually a few surprises in the film that hit you at the end that you did not see coming.

Now, the negatives:

  1. The escape at the beginning of the movie is more MacGyver than it needed to be.
  2. The scenes with the characters on the outside world seemed to be forced into the movie, albeit that they are necessary for the viewer to receive the necessary “justice” at the end of the film.
  3. The torture scenes, while necessary, are a little graphic for people with weaker constitutions.
  4. The movie is a tad long because it has to create the backstory for Stallone’s character.  If they didn’t have to give an over the top MacGyver intro to the movie, it would be a perfect length.
  5. The main plot is very predictable, and actually told to you by the title.

Overall, this movie is a fun film to watch.  It suffers from a unique problem in that it is marketed as action adventure but should be science fiction action adventure.  This lack of science fiction push hurts the movie as people will walk away disappointed because they expected a traditional brainless action adventure film.  As someone who enjoys cinema I will add that the movie has a very traditional Hollywood tone to it.  You will come out happy for the main character.  You will get the payoff you expect for the bad guy.  You will also get the necessary closure for all the additional side story points.  You also get a few action adventure one-liners.  This movie is a good matinee film for sci-fi action adventure fans to sit back and enjoy.  Just remember to check reality at the door.  I wish more people would do that when they go into a movie.

 

Rating:  4th Gear