Escape Plan 2: Hades (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) and his crack-team of prison-breakers are tasked with rescuing key ally Shu Ren (Xiaoming Huang) from Hades, an amorphous high-tech prison in Shanghai.

REVIEW: Zero for two I am in the business of predicting quality action fare. Good grief. A few months after going to bat for CORBIN NASH and epically striking out, I’m headed to the bench for the rest of the summer for once again swinging and wildly missing with ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES – an inferior, incoherently slapdash, poorly made pell-mell production that cynically serves a sole function: to bleed the Chinese marketplace for all it’s worth. Indeed, five years after Mikael Hafstrom pitted two of the most iconic 80s action stars against each other in ESCAPE PLAN, a middling piece of pop-entertainment that far outperformed in China than in the states, the reins have been handed over to journeyman Steven C. Miller (FIRST KILL, ARSENAL, MARAUDERS) to further pander to the Chinese audience. And do so unabashedly, on the cheap, and with only 20 days to complete the shoot. The result shows that, if Hades actually exists, it’s likely to be far more pleasurable than the mess that is ESCAPE PLAN 2.

In an opening prison-break scene that sets the tone of bemusing incoherence, verbally and visually, we find that Ray Breslin no longer gets his hands dirty, but serves as more of a managerial puppet-master from the cozy confines of his office. Ray has assembled a team of tough-looking, bearded bad-boys to continue what they do best: bust people out of the most impregnable prisons for a handsome fee. Old standby Hush (50 Cent, whose MVP performance lets you know what an abject shite-show this is) is joined by newcomers Luke (Jesse Metcalfe), Jaspar (Wes Chatham), Trent (Dave Bautista in a cameo at best), Abigail (Jaime King), Moe (Tyler Jon Olson), Gregor (Titus Welliver) and a few others. After failing a rescue mission to open, Breslin learns one of his entrusted operatives, Shu Ren (Xiaoming Huang), has been kidnapped and placed in Hades, the most high-tech prison in the world. The crew must first penetrate its armor, locate Shu once inside, and bust him the hell out of there. I won’t betray much more than that, except to say the movie has no ending. A venally open-ended ellipsis is presented, making way for ESCAPE PLAN 3: DEVIL’S STATION, which is shamelessly already in post-production.

There’s so much wrong with HADES though, it’s hard to decide where to begin. I suppose the first thing we should address is the glaring absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, after returning to the screen following his political career, gave one of his better performances in ESCAPE PLAN. Simply put, to lose The Schwarz is to lose half of the appeal of the original right off the bat. For Stallone’s part, save for one hand-to-hand sparring session in the final few minutes, he’s proven himself to be too old for intense physical action. Sly spends most of the film in a high-rise, talking on the phone, spouting unintelligible orders that we cannot possibly keep track of, or even care to after a certain point. Those hoping to see one last geriatric go-around to remind of us of the luminous wattage of his 80s action star power, you will be roundly disgusted by HADES. Even more inexcusably, those hoping for the mere amusement of a baseline action movie are bound to be sorely dejected, as there are far more scenes of excruciating exposition and confusingly cross-cut speeches than actual combat. Listen up, HADES is an inaction movie!

The way Miller frames, shoots and edits the verbosity is just as tiresome. In a stylized attempt to keep the pacing fresh and the dialogue from boring, Miller continues to bounce back and forth between conversations held by multiple parties, doing so in a way that utterly backfires. We can’t follow one conversation, dripping with turgid language, much less multiple ones overlapping each other. Worse, likely due to the lack of time and money, Miller seems to have shot zero coverage of any main scene or major sequence in the film. I can’t even tell you how much of the movie is shot in close-up to medium close-up, shakily handheld, rarely ever pulling back to give us a sense of place, size and scope. There’s such a dizzied, unpleasant, claustrophobic feel to the movie that it becomes physically difficult to simply look at after awhile. Even if the story were engaging, which it is far from, the movie would still be chore to finish. Mikael Hafstrom is a far more talented filmmaker than Miller, which is another chief reason why this sequel is so inferior.

Perhaps most damming though, which ties into the above misgivings, is how poorly executed the technological FX are in the film. For a movie whose premise boasts the most technologically advanced prison ever constructed, a lot is left to be desired on this front. Most of what we see inside the prison is a large industrial room, with cells aligned on the circular perimeter and weak rave-lasers emanating from the top. It’s a joke. Even the so called Sanctuary, a serene virtual room inmates fight over the right to inhabit, comes off as a poorly conceived and inferiorly actuated set-piece. Nothing about the movie is convincing, least of which the one aspect that needs to be given its plot, the tech. Overall, this is a quickly, cheaply made, B-grade lack-of-action movie meant to expound on the monetary gain its predecessor surprisingly found in China. ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES is a game of three-card Monte. Don’t fall for it!


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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie. In addition to video scripts, Jake has written news articles, movie reviews, book reviews, script reviews, set visits, Top 10 Lists (The Horror Ten Spot), Feature Articles The Test of Time and The Black Sheep, and more.