Finally the answer to ultimate question: who is tougher – Stallone or Schwarzenegger?
Director: Mikael Håfström | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jim Caviezel
Budget: 50 million | Box office: 25 million (2 weeks)
It‘s funny that the first name that I remember from movies is also the hardest. I never spelled it right, of course, but now when we have copy paste it‘s not a problem anymore. The roles of Schwarzenegger are so varied and so memorable (talking about action films) that no actor comes close, even Stallone. So it was really exciting to finally see him in the lead roles after a long absence. The first comeback role in The Last Stand was kind of usual and I would say safe for him, like a warm-up before the real thing. And Escape Plan perfectly fits that purpose.
Interesting thing about both new Arnold‘s movies, coincidence or not, is that he chose to work with not some well established Hollywood action filmmakers, but relatively new guys. First South Korean Kim Jee-Woon and now Swedish Mikael Håfström, who tried himself in couple of middle class Hollywood films, most notably 1408. The story was created also by newcomer, so it‘s really great that him and Stallone gave a chance and real commitment to such largely independent project.
The story is of course centred around the two actors, who are stuck in a secret unofficial prison. There are lots of prison escape movies but a good twist on such idea is always interesting. Here Stallone‘s character, expert of breaking from prisons, creates a believable setting and starts an interesting course of events. But it‘s Schwarzenegger who really shines and surprises as his breaking out partner. Even if the main character and story development is quite predictable, there are some genuine moments where it‘s just hard to believe that Arnold can go for such cool and crazy scenes. And his secret works well too, at least for me it was a surprise. The only thing which was not so cool was the actual escape scenes – compared to the rest of the film and again except some moments with Arnold they are too typical.
Other actors fit well to the setting too, especially Caviezel, who really looks much better in bad guys‘ roles than the good ones. It seems that the main prison guard‘s character was written just for him. Nice to see brutal Brit Vinnie Jones here too.
I also liked minimalistic style and simple approach of production. It fits the topic well and helps effectively use quite modest budget for such film. Everything is kind of low-fi, do it yourself style, but with a high level of quality.