Friday 4 April 2014

Escape Plan

Previously named “Exit Plan” and “The Tomb” Escape Plan is the new film featuring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in their first side-by-side proper roles.  The film before I start is properly brilliant, Arnie actually acts in it and I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say that it’s the best performance he’s ever done.  I watched it with a guy who is a massive Arnie and Sly fan and he agrees, so I assume I’m correct.

One New Years Eve, back when I was remarkably uncool and unpopular and basically about as noticeable as a shadow in a room with no windows or light source, I was working for a famous Burger Chain which when you’re 16 is where all the cool kids work.  By cool kids I don’t mean the Johnny Depps and the like who are cool adults, I mean the obnoxious, loud ones who grow up to have boring, pointless lives because they’ve, to quote Derren Brown, “have never had to carve a path through life for themselves”. In short, on New Years Eve after every one had gone home I found myself getting changed in the changing rooms and coming out to a completely empty, and very much locked, building. It was about 11.30pm and the 1990’s so no text message I was sending, no call I was making was going to connect because everyone was drunk and busy congratulating each other on staying alive after another trip around the sun. I had to plan, and craft an escape route, and I wasn’t even being paid my £3.75 an hour.

This is, in a way, the job of Sylvester Stallone’s character Ray Breslin who is paid large amounts of money to break out of prisons to test their claims of maximum security.  He watches people’s routines in the prison, and makes sure to get separated into a little studio apartment cell so he can escape more easily as he works through everything in his mind. It’s not too long before he gets placed in a prison designed, very specifically, to avoid any of the mistakes made by other prisons in the past. Easy to do as Breslin had written a lovely ‘Dummies Guide to Building a Prison’, a book that ended up being stolen.  Surprising as you'd think he would have thought to have better security on his things.  

I’m not sure what the aggressive version of befriending someone is, I suppose it’s rape, but less than that, but Arnie does that, befriends Stallone against his will and eventually they become close. Now it has become apparent that Stallone has been left here against his will, with no feasible way out very much like me in my story.  Schwarzenegger is here against his will as well, but the difference is that he’s being held there so that he will give up someone’s identity and whereabouts in exchange for his freedom.  He probably won’t get it even if he folds because the warden is one of those creepy evil bad guys who collects butterflies and owns a Vinnie Jones, who plays a mixture between Vinnie Jones in all those films he’s in and Vinnie Jones when he played for Leeds.

Ultimately the film comes down to one thing Stallone and Arnie working together as a team to break out of the prison and find out who put them there, etc. The film plays out in a very interesting way; Arnie has some incredible 80s-esque lines, the whole film feels like a Stallone film up until half way through when it feels like an Arnie film and then ultimately concludes.   There’s a part where Arnie pretends to go mad and starts screaming in what sounds like German but what I assume is Austrian and it’s really, remarkably well acted.  The film feels like a semi sci-fi film that just keeps delivering, one of the best I’ve seen in this vein, far out weighed The Last Stand and Bullet in the Head combined.

Their whole trip out of the prison is full of brutal fight scenes and a lot of intensity and Ocean’s 11-esque intrigue and the like.  In short it’s slightly harder than pushing open the fire escape door and legging it down the street.  Which incidentally is what I did. I was lovin’ it.

Escape Plan gets a 4/5, [★★★★☆]

Dave Roberts

Escape Plan at CeX

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