Get out before the sequel.
Escape Plan (2013): 6 out of 10: In Escape Plan Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone are two retirees at the Shady Oaks nursing home. When they find out their favorite band Starship is playing at the local ribfest, they plot their escape but can they get past the new nurse Tyrone played by 50 Cent.
Seriously, shouldn’t these guys be making comedies with Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones by now? Anyway, the actual plot is sillier than what I wrote above. Sylvester Stallone is a professional prisoner hired by the department of corrections to test their jails security. A CIA operative hires him to test a Black Site prison where the worst of the worst are kept. Shenanigans ensue.
The Good: Honestly I can watch Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in almost anything as long as neither of them tries to emote and both of them try to shoot things. This film meets both these criteria. Special shout out to Arnold, who seems to have a fantastic time no matter what is going on.
As stupid as the story is the film tries to make it work with some twists here and there. They won’t fool many people past the age of thirteen and Sly’s backstory on how he became a professional prisoner is so paint by the numbers it comes with a felt pen, but I appreciate the effort for what is, in essence, a ninety-minute prison escape movie.
For someone who has expressed in more than one review how he dislikes men in prison movies. (Women in prison movies are a whole different genre, trust me) I seem to watch a lot of them. So on the very plus side in Escape Plan there is a lack of some obvious prison tropes. Among the common tropes that are thankfully absent, there isn’t a sensitive prisoner with a pet bird or work of art that is begging to be destroyed, there is no boxing program, and nobody drops any soap throughout the proceedings.
The Bad: There is a real-world company called Parkour Generations that one can hire to escape from prisons. It isn’t exactly the same set-up as this film, however. For example, prisons are not usually filled with actual prisoners at the time of testing the security, and none of the employees would be mistaken for Sly Stallone. But the undercover guy in prison is a trope for a reason, I guess. Other tropes that make an appearance are that one screw who hits extra hard and the drunk prison doctor (a slumming Sam Neill.)
The Ugly: The sequel Escape Plan 2: Hades really makes you realize how much Arnold Schwarzenegger adds to the enjoyment of this film. Well, Arnold and a decent budget and good direction. Good Lord, the sequel was bad.
In Conclusion: This is a live-action cartoon with Arnold and Sly playing well Arnold and Sly. As these things go, it is a relatively breezy fun time. It’s not good per se but as the sequel proved it could have been a lot worse. Fun movie with a good supporting cast and some decent action beats.