Review: Escape Plan

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a master escape artist, who gets paid millions to make sure the country's maximum security prisons are escape-proof by spending time in each as an inmate. He meets his match when he's sent to a black ops-funded prison called “The Tomb”, only to be disavowed by the people who hired him. With the sadistic warden (James Caviezel) of The Tomb having studied Breslin's work, it seems like escape is impossible, until he meets a fellow prisoner, Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) with secrets of his own.

REVIEW: Action fans rejoice! Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone have finally made a full-on buddy action movie together with ESCAPE PLAN. While they've appeared side-by-side in the EXPENDABLES series, they only briefly shared the screen in each. Here, the two icons get a whole film to themselves. But was it worth the wait?

For the most part yes. Despite a few slow patches- mostly confined to the first act- ESCAPE PLAN is an affectionate and fun-filled throwback to the type of movie that made the both of them superstars. It's noteworthy that the movie really only comes to life when the two men finally meet-up- about a half-hour in- when Stallone finds himself trapped in “The Tomb”. From here on, all the exposition is out of the way, and ESCAPE PLAN becomes your prototypical buddy-action movie, more than a little reminiscent of the classic Stallone vehicle TANGO & CASH (Sly's actually been to prison numerous times on film- with LOCK UP, DEMOLITION MAN, and the WW2 P.O.W movie VICTORY).

While it's a shame it took the two icons so long to finally make a movie together, despite being older (Stallone is 67, Schwarzenegger is 66) both men are as spry as ever. Schwarzenegger in particular is at the top of his game here. Sporting a stylish salt & pepper goatee, Arnold is clearly having the time of his life playing the eccentric Rottmayer. He's the wildcard to Stallone's tortured hero, and seems to be relishing his big-screen comeback. He's given a number of fun scenes, including a funny interrogation by the villainous Caviezel (snarlingly effective as the hiss-worthy baddie) and a great bit where he rants and raves in Austrian German. He hasn't been this much fun since TRUE LIES.

It helps that director Mikael Hafstrom seems fully aware of the type of movie Sly and Arnie fans are expecting, and he keeps it chugging along at a relatively fast pace. The story is fairly basic, but the design of “The Tomb” itself (also the film's original and far better title) is neat, as are the tactics Stallone uses to plan his escape. Hafstrom throws in lots of nods to the duo's friendly off-screen rivalry, including a great- if brief- fight scene, and some funny banter. There's also a full-on “icon” action moment with Schwarzenegger that brought down the house, although Stallone gets the film's best action scene in a knock-down brawl with one of the main baddies.

Obviously ESCAPE PLAN isn't a perfect film. It pretty much grinds to a halt whenever they cut away to Stallone's support team outside the prison (Amy Ryan and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). Luckily, this only happens briefly, and the focus stays where it belongs. Throughout, it's a fun action ride that's sure to please hardcore fans of both actors. It's unapologetically R-rated, with lots of corny one-liners, and over-the-top action. But really, would you expect anything else? As a fun action throwback, it can't be denied that ESCAPE PLAN delivers. Hopefully the big-screen chemistry between these two icons will translate to a good box-office take, as it would be a lot of fun to see these guys headline another movie together.


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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.