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dir Mikael Hafstrom
scr Miles Chapman, Arnell Jesko
prd Robbie Brenner, Mark Canton, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Kevin King Templeton
with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio, Amy Ryan, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, Faran Tahir, Matt Gerald, Caitriona Balfe, David Joseph Martinez
release US/UK 18.Oct.13
13/US Summit 1h56
The Escapables: Schwarzenegger and Stallone
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Just clever enough to hold our interest, this corny prison-break thriller is so slickly made that we're almost willing to suspend our disbelief. Not that it's possible to buy into any movie starring Sly and Arnie that takes itself this seriously. But the idea is so breathtakingly silly that it catches our interest.
Breslin (Stallone) is a security expert who gets himself anonymously thrown into maximum security prisons so he can find the weakness in the system. Apparently unruffled by physical brutality and control-freak prison staff, he relies on his team (Ryan and Jackson) for back-up, while his business partner (D'Onofrio) takes care of the lucrative financial aspects. Then he's approached by the CIA to check out their top-secret enemy combatant facility. Off the grid without his support crew, he befriends fellow inmates Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) and Javed (Tahir) to take on fiendish warden Hobbes (Caviezel).
Filmmaker Hafstrom can barely conceal his amusement at this appallingly stupid story. But he plays it straight, inserting the requisite prison cliches on schedule while pushing the plot resolutely forward, even though we never doubt where it's heading. There are some surprises along the way, and the loosely topical subject matter adds a tinge of political subtext, mainly in the way the private contractor has exploited the War on Terror for its own monetary gain.
Stallone and Schwarzenegger play old men with extraordinary muscle-tone and supernatural intelligence. They have a great time sparring verbally and physically as they scheme to get out of this crazy prison. Much of this is so laughably contrived that it's pointless to argue about the general implausibility. And these two meathead movie stars are a lot more fun to watch in heist mode than as let's-kill-everyone Expendables.
Obviously the supporting cast doesn't have a chance. Caviezel is marvellously slimy, while Jones (as an evil guard) scowls manfully and Neill (as a helpful doctor) tries to act conflicted. But there isn't much more space on screen once you get Sly and Arnie up there. And since we know they can't help but win the day, we just sit back and enjoy the inanely explosive finale. And the only question left is whether they're already working on a sequel.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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