Escape Plan (d. Mikael Håfström USA 2013)

Escape Plan (d. Mikael Håfström USA 2013)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.


Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability: starfish starfish starfish

Technical: starfish starfish starfish


Arnold Schwarzenegger, who doesn’t know of cinema’s beloved ‘Arnie’? In the 1980’s Action films took form with actors like ‘Arnie’, Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Prime examples being Commando (d. Mark L. Lester USA 1985), Rambo III (d. Peter MacDonald USA 1988) and Kickboxer (d. Mark DiSalle, David Worth USA 1989). These films are quintessential examples of the era. Films that bathed themselves in excessive guns, cheesy one-liners, invincible heroes and neverending hordes of bad guys. Recently we have looked on with nostalgia, creating many tributes like The Expendables (d. Sylvester Stallone USA 2010), and sequels like A Good Day to Die Hard (d. John Moore USA 2013) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (d. Steven Spielberg USA 2008) . There is clearly a call for cheesy, inaccurate, over-the-top – otherwise known as fun – films. Though it would be excellent to create another action star that would embody these traits, it wouldn’t satisfy this nostaliga. It’s far too difficult to match ‘Arnie’s charm. And so, “He’s Back!”


As of 2013, ‘Arnie’ is 66 and Stallone is 67. The Roles that gave them fame were physically demanding – particularly ‘Arnie’s trademark lifts. As a result we may be disappointed not to see the same antics. However, would it be the same to see a 60 year old lift trees or cars? The performances in this case have more character and complexity. This isn’t to say that many of their other trademarks aren’t present. There are one-liners, cheeky moments of ‘he’s a badarse’ and close up reaction shots that showcase their facial expressions. They are still fun! But! The characters have a bit more than that. There is a level of sophistication in the characters. The comedy is a lot more subtle which allows for character development that goes against the, at times, 2-dimensional characters associated with the actors. Though this may scare many fans, they manage to achieve a balance where their action scenes are as exciting as their dramatic ones. Keeping a build of character that brings you quickly to their fun, tongue-in-cheek fight scenes.


A film like this, with its rather prolithic stars, may have many of its other elements overlooked. So lets move away from the principal stars and look at narrative for a moment. It is important to note that the film itself is rather predictable. Following a fairly generic plot – though this is a tendency with the genre – but having rather interesting scenes. Each scene is tailored to be interesting conceptually and, at times, with intelligence. This is in spite of the predictable nature in which we expect each scene to follow the other. Additionally, each scene is shot well and with attention to formalities of filming an action film. However, there are little attempts at originality and the use of CGI is mediocre at best.


Clearly this is a film meant to cement the position of both stars as still masters of their genre. They act well, they fight well, the film is very entertaining. It is clear that ‘Arnie’, to use his favourite phrase, “is back”. If you’re looking for a celebration of each actor or are a big fan of either of their films – this will be a lot of fun and a brilliant indulgence of your inner child…. why not? Ridiculous action is fun, a much needed aspect to modern cinema.


Further Reading

Official Site

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Site

Sylvester Stallone’s Site

Interview with Schwarzenegger and Stallone

Interview with Mikael Håfström

Comic-Con Interviews

300 Arnold Schwarzenegger Quotes

Supercut Arnold and his quotes

Arnold Schwarzenegger Kill Count

The Trouble with I’ll be Back

Schwarzenegger Moments

Sylvester Stallone Moments

Family Guy Rocky

Rainier Wolfcastle – McBain

Rainier Wolfcastle – Let’s Get Silly



Once a prison has been made there are people who test them – this is the story of one such man. He is the authority on breaking out of prisons and now someone has built a prison specifically for him.

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