Duel of the Titans

A film too slick for its own good, writes Aubrey Malone

Escape Plan (15A)

 
The old joke has it that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger both act like robots, but at least Stallone looks like he comes with batteries.

 Dylan Moran once said that Schwarzenegger became famous “because he can lift heavy things”. Stallone, on the contrary, seems to have developed an acting style from looking as if he’s trying to dislocate his jawline from the rest of his face. 

Pulsating

The pair of them appear together in this pulsating thriller. You’ll be glad to hear the film didn’t have to be shot in Cinemascope to fit them both in the one shot.

Stallone plays a structural engineer who designs high-tech prisons people can’t break out of. The clever plot device here is that he finds himself inside his latest escape-proof creation against his will. 

Sadly, that’s the only clever thing about this fifth-rate effort, though I have to say I’ve never seen a prison on a ship before. That’s Stallone’s first big shock after he lands on deck after dreaming up one of those ingenious escape plans you would only see in a Stallone movie. Or a Schwarzenegger one.

The goatee-sporting Schwarzenegger helps Stallone break out in between having mock-fights with him, but in another sense, the film itself is a mock-up. 

The two musclemen resemble a pair of out-of-work heavyweights making one last bid for glory in a film that’s too slick for its own good, especially in the last quarter when it springs a series of identity surprises on us. By then, unfortunately, one has become too drained to really care about who’s who.

Vinnie Jones turns up as a prison guard, but he too has surely outlived his usefulness by now, even as a ruffian.

Blood and guts

Expect lots of blood and guts, and the kind of ‘factory’ language at which The Terminator and The Italian Stallion have made their own for many moons now. 

The token ‘refined sadist’ governor is played by Jim Caviezel but even his sleekness fails to make this would-be groundbreaker transcend its genre shoehorning.

Neither are there any new catchphrases from the man who once so famously said “I’ll be back”. These days it’s more likely to be something along the lines of ‘Oh – my back’.

Though having said that, himself and Sly look remarkably well for their ages. Exactly how much of that is down to the make-up department is anyone’s guess.

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