Schwarzenegger’s escape plan to escape Escape Plan 2 worked. Unfortunately for Stallone he got trapped into making an unwanted, unnecessary sequel to a moderately successful film. Back in the Eighties it would have been big news to have the pair at the height of their fame appear in a film together. Instead Schwarzenegger made the original as part of a generally unsuccessful comeback and Stallone made it after the critically mauled ‘Bullet to the Head’.
Escape Plan 2 sees Ray Breslin (Stallone) supervising from his US office his team in Chechnya orchestrate the rescue of a woman kidnapped by rebel soldiers but it’s a mark of how bland this is going to be when what should be a dynamic and exciting sequence turns out to be as generic as anything you’d find in the dvd bargain bin of your local poundland shop. It’s a sequence which sets up the rest of the film when Stallone fires one of his team Jasper (Wes Chatham) for jeopardizing the escape plan so it comes as little surprise that Jasper will become the vengeful baddie.
To this end Stallone, for reasons too dull to recount, finds himself locked up in a another supposedly inescapable hi-tech prison and the films arch villain’s name is revealed to be, The Zookeeper. Yes, The ZooKeeper, a name that conjures up an image of a man in a peaked cap and a stiff bristle brush sweeping up elephant poo which is fittingly appropriate for Escape Plan 2. What made the first film so engaging was the seemingly escape proof-ness of the prison and the pairing of Stallone & Schwarzenegger working out how to beat the fail safe mechanism’s. Escape Plan 2 has none of that instead relying on relentless fist fights amongst the prisoners of which many are martial arts based led by Shu (Xiamong Hunag) and that’s because this is financed by Chinese investors and is very much aimed at that market. Hunag may be big star out there but for the rest of the cast it’s a waste of talent. You can see it in Stallone’s eyes that he really should have followed Schwarzenegger to the exit, Dave Bautista, who is such a great screen presence, takes half an hour to appear before he disappears again for another huge chunk of the film and 50 Cent appears for his pay cheque presumably in an effort to stave of bankruptcy having been to the school of acting characterization which equates wearing glasses as being intellectual. Add to the mix three characters whose bald headed, sunken eyed appearance gives the impression that they are the bastard offspring of The Addams Family’s Uncle Fester. Screenwriter Miles Chapman, who wrote the original, gives his sequel little to raise it above the average and is not helped by director Steven C Miller , a direct to video specialist with little flair.
Depressingly Escape Plan 2 sets up a third film which unfortunately is already in the works. Unwittingly the script gives Stallone an incisive line, ‘I’m getting really sick of this shit!’ . We know exactly how he feels.
Here’s the trailer…..