Review: Escape Plan: The Extractors

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

escape plan the extractors bannerPLOT: Escape expert Ray Breslin’s (Sylvester Stallone) plan to rescue a Chinese oligarch’s daughter from a Latvian prison takes a personal turn when his girlfriend (Jamie King) is kidnapped.

REVIEW: The ESCAPE PLAN series has to stand as Sylvester Stallone’s most out of nowhere franchise to date. While the first installment was a legit film, which teamed him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the two sequels have been low-budget, direct-to-VOD quickies, made with an eye on the Chinese market, who made the original a surprise overseas blockbuster (compared to its poor U.S box office returns).

Given how in-demand he remains, Stallone’s participation in the sequels have been hit and miss, with ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES only featuring him (and co-star Dave Bautista) in supporting roles. It could have been worse though, as Emmett/Furla, the producers, have a reputation for churning out quickie actioners with tiny roles for top-billed stars like Bruce Willis. Stallone had such a part in their forgettable thriller, BACKTRACE, but in ESCAPE PLAN 2 he still took center stage in the climax and got in on the action to some degree. Still, Stallone himself recently called it (on his Instagram page) the worst produced film he’s ever been involved in, while singing the praises of this one, which teams him with long-time director pal John Herzfeld, who’s directed some pretty solid little movies, like 15 MINUTES and 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY.

As such, this is a better all-around effort than HADES. Stallone’s part is much bigger this time, with him firmly the lead, although he’s still off-screen for large stretches of screen time- with peripheral characters getting major arcs (such as “Glee’s” Harry Shum Jr.) only to be done away with in the most off-handed way as a way to cover for his absense. Herzfeld does distinguish the film from the other ones in the series though by embracing a much darker premise, with Devon Sawa’s baddie wanting revenge on Stallone and his crew for the cruel way they dispatched his father (Vincent D’Onofrio’s character) in the first film.

It takes THE EXTRACTORS a while to get going, but once Jamie King’s character is grabbed and Breslin is mobilized, this becomes a decent B-grade actioner – and a lot more solid than you’d usually get from Emmett/Furla and Liongate’s Grindstone. The action scenes are well-executed, helped by the second lead, Max Zhang, who’s a rising star in Asia thanks to his memorable turn as Master Z in IP MAN 3 and his spin-off MASTER Z: THE IP MAN LEGACY. He struggles with the English dialogue, but his fight scenes are really solid, with him being the kidnapped Chinese girl’s former bodyguard/lover, who also has it in for her dad (nineties heartthrob Russell Wong). Zhang has a good fight scene opposite Daniel Bernhardt, who’s fought everyone from Jason Statham in PARKER to Keanu Reeves in JOHN WICK to Bill Hader in HBO’s “Barry.”

escape plan the extractors sylvester stallone

Sly’s action is mostly the down and dirty kind, with the movie’s big moment being a brawl with Sawa that, again according to Stallone’s Instagram, was improvised, and it’s a memorable one. For a DTV action flick, ESCAPE PLAN: THE EXTRACTORS isn’t bad, although to be sure it has some of the usual problems of the genre. For one thing, it’s only eighty minutes (before the credits) but it feels very padded-out. Herzfeld is a better director than usual, but even he can’t overcome some of the obvious limitations of his budget/schedule, and worst of all, Dave Bautista’s part is still little more than a cameo (which is too bad – as his chemistry with Sly is top-notch). Also puzzling is the way 50 Cent is listed on the Blu-ray cover, given how minor his part is.

The fact is, to get any enjoyment out of ESCAPE PLAN: THE EXTRACTORS, you have to know what you’re getting into before you watch it. If you’re expecting a full-on Stallone action movie, you’ll be disappointed. Wait until RAMBO: LAST BLOOD. This is a B-movie and was likely never intended to be anything other than that. It was never meant to be a theatrical release, but even still, Stallone and Herzfeld try to give the audience their money’s worth. While I only recommended ESCAPE PLAN 2 for hardcore Stallone completists (and BACKTRACE not even for those), this one has a little more to it and isn’t bad for what it is.

Escape Plan



Viewer Ratings (0 reviews)

Add your rating


About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.