ESCAPE PLAN (Mikael Håfström). 116 minutes. Opens Friday (October 18). See listing. Rating: NNN
Escape Plan is nothing more than an excuse for Rambo and Commando fans (essentially the same demographic) to bask in the sight of 80s action titans Stallone and Schwarzenegger together onscreen. To that end, their collaboration here delivers exactly what we're looking for far more extensively than the few minutes they shared in The Expendables.
Nobody bothers to build a convincing movie around this monumental occasion, where Stallone stars as Ray Breslin, a professional escape artist who cases maximum security prisons from the inside and breaks out to expose weak points. When he gets shipped off to a futuristic facility in the middle of nowhere, full of glass cages and black-masked prison guards, Breslin teams up with Schwarzenegger's Rottmayer to hatch a scheme.
There's poor dialogue and hammy acting across the board, often deliberately. Not even the titular escape plans will raise a pulse, since they make little to no sense despite being preordained for success. Audiences might wonder why a state-of-the-art prison doesn't bother with strip searches. Seems even the villainous warden (Jim Caviezel), like everybody in the theatre, wants to see if the stars will require walking sticks to bat away faceless baddies.
Stallone and Schwarzenegger have a lot of fun with the concept, going punch for punch figuratively, and at one point literally, inciting the latter to hilariously remark that the former hits "like a vegetarian." They trade self-conscious jabs about how dumb the other looks. Stallone gets the opportunity to go all Rocky on one character. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger gets to prove that while cracking a huge grin he can still rip a turret gun off its mounts and hose down an army.
And in a glorious moment of unified defiance, they both look directly at the camera and raise a middle finger. Watching on the other side of that camera are the younger villains and the audience, both guilty of assuming that time has run out on these two aging heavyweights.