WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
It’s been years since Ray Breslin fought his way out of a maximum-security prison and in that time, he has built up a top-of-the-line security force. When Shu, one of his top guys, gets kidnapped and imprisoned by mysterious forces, Breslin’s team works from the outside to free Shu as Shu himself starts to concoct an incredibly risky plan for his own escape.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
For a film that featured Stallone and Schwarzenegger teaming up as a couple of tough guys breaking out of a futuristic prison, Escape Plan was an astoundingly forgettable movie. It was released all of five years ago but, as far as I’m concerned, it may have come out fifty years ago, so little impact did it make on me. I remember it being basically OK but that was about it. Here we are, though, with a sequel that not only did no one ask for but one that totally misleads its paying audience in what it actually is.
The main selling point of the first film was that it was a strange-bedfellows team-up between two of the biggest ‘80s action stars after having only a limited amount of screen time together in the two Expendables films that had come out by then. With Arnie out doing the fifty-seventh reboot of the Terminator franchise, the big selling point of Escape Plan 2 is that this time it would feature good ol’ Sly Stallone teaming up with the best wrestler-turned-actor around today – aside for the peerless Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, of course – and fan favourite from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Dave Bautista, for a bit more of that mix of ludicrous action, almost self-parodic machismo and sub-Shane-Black quips that made the first one something of a favourite among certain action-film fans.
This, however, is not that movie. I mean, yes, there is some of those fairly tiresome displays of machismo and the action scenes are present and accounted for – even if they’re about as boring as action scenes get – but this isn’t the Stallone/Bautista film we were promised. Hell, it’s not even a Stallone and/ or Bautista film. Between the two of them (with both clearly just showing up to collect their cheques) they have maybe twenty-minutes of screen time in total.
The actual “star” of the film is Huang Xiaoming as Shu, your none-more-stereotypical “cool, calm and collected Asian with mad martial arts skills” action-star – and I’m here to tell you, this guy ain’t no Bruce Lee, Jet Li or Jackie Chan. He may be a good martial artist (though, considering how badly shot and edited the fight scenes are, who the hell can tell?) but, as an actor, he makes Steven Seagal look like a versatile and highly expressive Thespian of the highest order. He does, unintentionally to be sure, provide the one laugh in the film, however, when the laughably crap villain of the film tells Shu “you have no idea how long I’ve waited to see that expression on your face” (paraphrased, probably) and Xiaoming is wearing precisely the same expression that he had been throughout the rest of the entire film.
At this point, it’s probably not even worth mentioning how under-developed the plot is, how non-existent the characterisation inevitably turns out being, or how shoddy the storytelling of such a basic plot lands up being (something this stupid shouldn’t be this difficult to follow) but I will anyway.
Similarly, I assume I don’t have to tell you that the score by the Newton Brothers is the dictionary definition of generic action-flick fair or that screenwriter Miles Chapman (“known” for writing a small handful of little-seen TV projects) and director Steven C Miller (loads of straight-to-video action films) have assembled a really shoddy piece of work that has absolutely no business getting a cinematic release. You almost expect Bruce Willis to sleepwalk across the screen at some point!
This is really simple: don’t waste your money on this hideous turkey of a movie. I don’t care if you enjoyed the first film; are a fan of both or either “lead” actors or even if you just love yourself some testosterone-filled, action-packed drivel (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this is not the film for you. It has already flopped overseas and, though I don’t usually wish financial ruin on even the worst films I’ve seen, with such cynical and duplicitous marketing behind it, I can honestly say that Escape Plan 2 deserved to lose every cent that it has.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE