Arnie. Sly. Together. Again.
“The Expendables” was a taste. “Expendables 2” was an appetizer. “Escape Plan” is a full-course meal. And — surprise, surprise — this one is not merely a matter of meat meets meat.
This latest pairing of the two aging macho superstars actually has a functioning intelligence. And a sense of humor. Oh, and don’t worry. Its violence quotient is everything fans of muscle-bound cinema could ask for.
It’s a men-in-prison picture, with Mr. Schwarzenegger and Mr. Stallone locked up in an ultramodern, supersecret, rendition-era detention facility presided over by a silky voiced sadistic warden played by Jim Caviezel.
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Sly’s character is a professional breakout expert — a “Houdini,” in the words of an admirer — who hires himself out to test the security of supposedly escape-proof prisons. They invariably fail his stress tests.
Drugged and abducted, he winds up in a hellhole of glass cells — we see what you’re up to 24/7, convict. Arnie plays a mystery inmate who befriends him. Let the games begin.
There will be beatings. There will be riots in the dining hall. There will be bright lights and sleep deprivation in solitary. There will be enormous plot holes.
Can they escape?
Arnie has a mad scene where he rants and raves in his native German. An Arnie movie with subtitles! Careful, big guy. You’re treading dangerously close to art-movie territory there.
Arnie also gives the most relaxed performance of his post-governorship career. He gets the best lines. Clouted by Sly, he gibes, “You hit like a vegetarian.” And when Sly delivers a learned disquisition on the malleable properties of heated metal and their applications to jailbreaking, Arnie says, “You don’t look that smart.”
And he has the movie’s best moment when, after enduring all manner of bruising abuse, he finally gets his mitts on a great big honking machine gun. As director Mikael Håfström goes in for a huge close-up of his eyes, you see him giving the camera an “oh, yeah!” look. Then he blasts away.
Arnie, doing what he does best. Oh, yeah.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org