'Escape Plan': Predictable but enjoyable buddy flick
Career Day must be a hoot for Ray Breslin, the aging action hero played by Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan, a mildly amusing, if ultimately pointless prison-break thriller from Mikael Håfström (1408, The Rite).
"I go to prison for a living," one imagines Ray telling the kids. "Yep, I get to surround myself with some of the vilest killers, rapists, and thieves in the land. (I even have occasion to shiv one or two.)"
The teacher, one imagines, has passed out by now.
"Think of me as a quality control inspector," says Ray. "I make $2.5 million a pop to test supermax prisons by checking in and then breaking out."
As movie jobs go, this is one of the silliest we've seen in some time. Ray's backstory is even goofier. He was a big-time prosecutor once, until an evildoer he put away broke out and slaughtered his family. He vowed - and here Sly pumps up the pathos so hard, so big, the veins pop out on his neck - it would never happen again.
So there's our premise. The rest of Escape Plan should be obvious. Oh, and it is.
The fun kicks off when the CIA comes a-knocking in the shape of the remarkably shapely Irish actress Caitriona Balfe. She offers Ray and his business partner, the oily Lester Clark (Vincent D'Onofrio), $5 million to test one of the agency's secret, black-book facilities.
A gigantonormous, high-tech maze in an undisclosed corner of Dante's hell, the place is a cross between a roach motel and the most baroque prison the Marquis de Sade could ever imagine. It's used to make terrorists disappear without the hassle of a trial, CIA babe says seductively.
But oh, and here's the tragic twist: This isn't really a job - Ray has been locked up for good by a devilish cabal of conspirators.
Escape Plan morphs into a buddy flick with the entrance of the inimitable action figure Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Teutonic arms dealer. The Govinator does his thingz: mug for the camera and deliver one-liners.
The two prisoners become fast friends and plan the ultimate escape with the help of Javed (Faran Tahir), a hard-core Islamic jihadist who's also a nice guy.
Predictable all the way, Escape Plan also features Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest) as the sadistic warden and Vinnie Jones as his lackey. I won't tell you not to see this film: It has some good action and there's decent chemistry between Sly and Arnold. But don't come to me for a refund.