Susan Granger's review of 'Escape Plan'
Having spent much of their careers as box-office rivals, the muscle-bound, Austrian-born former governor of California and the Italian Stallion team up once again, following "The Expendables."
Structural engineer/former lawyer Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is the author of the definitive, nonfiction tome, "Compromising Correctional Institutional Security," which finds the glitches in prisons around the country. Usually, he's an undercover consultant, incarcerated as a phony criminal, who then breaks free to illustrate the particular penitentiary's potential flaws and serve as an adviser in correcting them. After escaping from a Colorado Federal Prison, Breslin is ostensibly hired for $5 million by a CIA operative to infiltrate a new, ultra-secret, privately funded, high-tech, heavily fortified, off-the-grid facility, known as "The Tomb," filled with underground glass cells housing "the worst of the worst" with masked, jackbooted guards patrolling on catwalks above them. Problem is: his evacuation code doesn't work and the warden who knows his real identity has gone missing.
Breslin and his co-workers (Vincent D'Onofrio, Amy Ryan, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) have been deceived and double-crossed. Joined by gregarious, goateed, German-speaking fellow inmate Emil Rottmeyer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and an Islamic terrorist (Faran Tahir), barrel-chested Breslin is determined to outwit and outsmart soft-spoken, sadistic warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), an amateur lepidopterist -- a.k.a. collector of insects like butterflies/moths -- and his heinous henchman, Drake (Vinnie Jones).
Generically written for these hulking, monosyllabic, sexagenarian relics by Miles Chapman and Arnell Jesko, it's burdened with slow-paced, banal, often unintelligible dialogue, except for Schwarzenegger's amusing one-liner: "You hit like a vegetarian!"
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Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom ("1408") places heavy-handed, pedestrian emphasis on extreme close-ups and swaggering, yet sloppy, testosterone-laden, tough-guy violence, except when Sam Neill appears briefly as the kindly, none-too-bright prison doctor, experiencing a crisis-of-conscience that forces him to look up the Hippocratic Oath.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Escape Plan" is a creaky, chugging 5. Lumbering lunkheads!