23rd Jul2018

‘Escape Plan 2′ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, Xiaoming Huang, Jesse Metcalfe, 50 Cent, Wes Chatham, Chen Tang, Tyron Woodley, Tyler Jon Olson, Titus Welliver, Shea Buckner, Jaime King, Lydia Hull, Ashley Cusato, Yifan Luo | Written by Miles Chapman | Directed by Steven C. Miller

escape-plan-2-UK-poster

2013′s Escape Plan was, despite the hype behind the double header of the appearance of Stallone and Schwarzenegger together, something of an underwhelming action flick. Whilst it was a solid movie it didn’t set the world alight and most people, other than genre fans that is, would be hard-pressed to remember the ins-and-outs of the futuristic prison film. But that didn’t stop Stallone from putting together plans for not one but TWO sequels, this time teaming with man-mountain and comedy genius Dave Bautista and director Steven C. Miller – who’s no stranger to genre filmmaking, having helmed a trio of Bruce Willis DTV movies and the Nicolas Cage madness that was Southern Fury.

Set years after Ray Breslin (Stallone) fought his way out of the escape-proof prison called “The Tomb,” Escape Plan 2 sees Breslin as the head of a new top-notch, for-hire security force that includes some of the best in the business. But when one of his team goes missing – inside a computerised techno-terror battle-maze known as Hades, where human combatants brawl like beasts – Breslin goes back into the secret lock-up to save his friend. To attempt this near impossible mission, he enlists his old friend Trent Derosa (Dave Bautista) and the returning surveillance expert Hush (Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson), to help him return from the gauntlet with both his friend and his life.

Never has there been a plot more convoluted than Escape Plan 2‘s…And when I say convoluted, I mean that the filsm story is told is what is essentially a series of montages, each playing out a piece of a plot. A plot whose sole purpose is to finally get Stallone (and his team) in yet another unescapable prison; and escape. The rest of the story is pretty much a rehash of the first film, complete with the same futuritsc technology, brutal environment and less Stallone than audiences will undoubtedly like.

Oh and did I mention this feels more like watching Fortress 3 rather than Escape Plan 2? And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s not until almost an hour that Escape Plan 2 evens TRIES to tie itself to the first film beyond the characters, instead it relishes in showing off the brutal, future-tech of Hades – a hi-tech prison that sees inmates literally fight each other for a chance at “sanctuary” (essentially solitary confinement, but with better conditions than the actual prison), and it’s that mix of brutality and technology which reminds me so much of the Fortress franchise, in particular the first, Stuart Gordon-directed film.

And that’s also probably because both Fortress director Stuart Gordon and Escape Plan 2 director Steven C. Miller both worked extensively in genre cinema, bringing a dark and gritty, DTV-like sensiblity to their films. Unfortunately for Miller it also seems like he was left with little to do with this film than remind viewers of the “prison break” concept and make way for the third, and final, film in the series. Sort of like an unwanted middle child, a child who gets taken care of but is not looked on as fondly as the first or the newer, shinier, latest kid.

Ultimately even more throwaway than the first film, Escape Plan 2 at least has some fantastic visuals to look at, even if the story doesn’t match up. The film is in cinemas and is available on Digital HD now, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

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