Directed by ‪Mikael Håfström, who also directed horror thriller 1408 (John Cusack who acts as Mike Enslin, gets a bitter taste of the supernatural that he has ridiculed at despite the contrary that he writes about them), Escape Plan brings together another classic example of Karma biting you in the butt.

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) published a book called Compromising Correctional Institutional Security based on his experience in uncovering the flaws of prison security systems to make them escape-proof. Little did he know that it’d be used to lock him up for real.

But since you can’t keep a good man down, the guy who breaks “out of prisons for a living” will spend the next few minutes of screen time trying to do just that from the perfect penitentiary. When compared to the TV series Prison Break (mostly from Season 1), there is an uncanny resemblance in the storyline as Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) commits an armed robbery with the intention to enter and break out of prison with his brother who was framed. In order to proceed with this plan, he meticulously schemed to gain help from inside by becoming friends with the prison doctor.

In Breslin’s words, the 3 things you need to do achieve this are: “Knowing the layout, understanding the routine, and [getting] help from outside or in.”

For the last, he has as his ally, none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing cellmate Emil Rottmayer who was also betrayed and imprisoned by colleagues who became corrupted officials.

Die-hard fans of Schwarzenegger (who haven’t seen him in a role bigger than his cameo in Stallone’s The Expendables 2since August 2012) will be thrilled for the opportunity to reminisce. Flashing his signature smirk and with his manic eyes filled with vengeance, the Commando‘s reincarnated when he grabs a machine gun to finish off over 30 guards.

Despite most of the action happening within the confines of human cages, you have to admit that the digital visual effects of the secret prison facility is practically a work of art, though admittedly not as sophisticated as other higher budget action films such as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, where Tom Cruise was equipped with “bionic contact lenses, gloves that stick to any surface and a BMW with a touchscreen interface integrated into the windshield.”

Screenwriters Miles Chapman and Jason Keller, struck a fine balance between complexity and simplicity in formulating an escape route accompanied with impactful one-liners when Rottmayer mocked Stallone’s weak punch saying, “You hit like a vegetarian!” which resulted in him doubling over in pain after a second punch directed at his abdomen.

The right amount of humor injected in the conversations between the 2 stars helped passed the time during a lengthy process of planning the ultimate escape that could have easily lost the attention of many. One of these moments was when Breslin shared about his career of breaking out of prisons as a living. Rottmayer remarked, “You don’t look that smart,” and Breslin retorted that Rottmayer doesn’t either. Between the extremely macho men, there were also sentimental moments of brotherhood, especially when Breslin shared with Rottmayer his personal reasons for leaving his profession as a lawyer.

Although there was a disappointing and unexpected lack of action-packed stunts given the subject matter, and shockingly minimal conversation exchange between the stars, Escape Plan still holds sufficient entertainment appeal for the ladies and guys, in the charisma that the actors exude as they executed the action stunts with brilliance in Breslin’s well-thought race to freedom.

Rating: 3.5/5
Release Date: Oct 24, 2013
Runtime: 116 mins
Language: English
Censorship Rating: NC16 (Violence/Coarse Language)
Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
Director: Mikael Håfström
Main Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, 50 Cent, Vincent D’Onofrio, Amy Ryan