2013’s Escape Plan was a fun action film that – save for their brief shared scenes in The Expendables franchise – was the first ever full feature teaming of ‘80s action icons Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Alongside a cool cast and a plot that served nicely as a throwback action picture, the film is not remembered as a modern classic but is well worth seeking out for a tough guy prison break action fix. So, while Escape Plan 2 (known in certain territories as Escape Plan 2: Hades) was not exactly requested, does it deliver the same enjoyable goods? Sadly, far from it.
The film sees Ray Breslin (Stallone) now in charge of a security company and running hostage rescue assignments. But when one of his best men Shu Ren (Huang Xiaoming) is kidnapped and thrown into a high tech prison, Breslin and the team must dig deeper into his whereabouts and in turn discover how to break him out.
As the straight-to-disc release status in the States, minimal cinema release over here and already filmed sequel denotes, Escape Plan 2 is not a pretty picture; in fact it is a mismanaged sequel and a dreary mess. Apparently budgeted at $20 million, certain CGI effects evoke shuddering memories of London Has Fallen’s PS2 cut scene effects, while the script is dragged into a sub-par Sci-Fi territory, which immediately jars with what came before. The film is a mish mash of other properties, with a sprinkling of John Wick here, a pinch of Mad Max Fury Road’s war boys there, some Saw-like editing beaten in and a whole topping of Tron Legacy/Blade Runner in both visuals and scoring but none of it comes together or feels right for the film.
Somewhere within lies a fun idea, perhaps a kind of earth bound Lockout but this film hasn’t the charisma to carry it off and it all feels like a weak assembly of clichés and scenes strung together with little natural progression or wit. At times the film jumps from one thing to another as sub-plots are forgotten about, ties to the first film are crowbarred in and the narrative becomes a mess the longer it progresses. No matter how many hologram environments, droid security or action bits are thrown at the screen; it feels garbled and confusingly fused together by people trying to go bigger (and failing) but forgetting to go better.
Worse than that though, is how wasted the genuinely up for it cast is, Schwarzenegger’s absence is unavoidably felt but Stallone (who alongside 50 Cent is the only actor that returns here) does what he can with his lines and a bone crunching final fight but he feels wasted on a film so lifeless and funless. Meanwhile Dave Bautista is underused and Huang Xiaoming has nothing to really work with in a film drowned with head scratching direction. Not to mention one of the most obvious twists in recent memory, which presents a villain that has little to no menace.
Escape Plan knew what it was, Escape Plan 2 is the exact opposite and it makes you appreciate the first movie even more and considering Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station is incoming, it feels like the audience is the one doing hard time here.
ESCAPE PLAN 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: STEVEN C. MILLER / WRITER: MILES CHAPMAN / STARRING: SYLVESTER STALLONE, HUANG XIAOMING, DAVE BAUTISTA, JESSE METCALFE, CURTIS “50 CENT” JACKSON, WES CHATHAM / RELEASE DATE: JULY 20TH