I might need some alcohol to get me through this one because this film is terrible. Chances are you might need a drink or two as well if you plan on continuing to read.
Someone really needs to tell Bautista he doesn’t need to do this low budget shit anymore. He was in Infinity War goddamn it, the biggest movie ever, he doesn’t need to be in garbage like this. I guess I can’t hark on this too much, seeing as before Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt did Path of Destruction, this shitty Asylum looking tv movie. We all got to start somewhere I guess. But no, this isn’t him just starting out, this was made fairly recently, so there is no reason for him to still degrade himself like this. You got to think of your brand.
The same could be said for Sylvester Stallone since the last film he did was Creed where he was nominated for a fucking Oscar. What the hell is he doing wasting his time on this straight to video trash?
I thought maybe he’d be different than the path most 80’s action stars have tumbled down these days, signing contracts to studios that make strictly straight to video movies. They take these deals mainly because they’re tossing a ton of money at them with the promise of little work.
This is the path Bruce Willis has taken along with a slew of others, including Nic Cage and John Cusack… okay, John Cusack. What the fuck, man? You hire him nowadays and it must be in his contract that he has to wear a stupid baseball cap or a damn bandana which always looks fucking ridiculous. If you’re that self-conscious about your hairline, do something about it, you have the money I’m sure. Get it fixed or go bald graciously like Bruce Willis has. Covering it up with a baseball cap in every movie… while smoking on an E Cig, you look idiotic.
Holyshit does Stallone look weird in this. He absolutely got a facelift. Or maybe some Botox injections, because his face looks plastic. Not a surprise this man won’t age gracefully. I mean, look at him in the first Rocky film, then watch as he keeps getting bulkier as the sequels go on. Somebody be juicin’. But I can’t be too harsh on him for wanting to be muscular, just look at Tom Hardy back in the day. Tiny little beanpole Tom Hardy.
Since I’m on disappointments, let’s talk about Steven C. Miller’s career as a director. The very first review I ever did for my now defunct Awesome Recommends in the forum section was for The Aggression Scale. After seeing and loving that movie, I declared that Steven C. Miller would be a name to look out for. I thought he’d have the career Jeremy Saulnier has, the director of Green Room and Blue Ruin.
But instead of taking that path in his career, he has taken shitty for hire jobs, usually shitty generic action films, most likely starring Bruce Willis. In fact, a lot of his shitty straight to video movies do star Bruce Willis. One film even features Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. That one John Cusack is wearing his trademark bandana. I just want to snatch that fucking thing off his damn head so bad. All he’s doing is drawing attention to something that isn’t even that noticeable.
Keeping up the tradition of most of these generic straight to video action movies, our most recognizable star is usually in the film for maybe a total of 20 minutes, and that’s me being generous. They’re barely in the film yet they always get top billing on the poster or box art. That’s true for Escape Plan 2, as Stallone gets top billing yet he’s in it for maybe 15 minutes of actual screen time.
The lead is a Chinese martial arts actor I’ve never heard of. If you have, that’s great, but I haven’t. He wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t what I was promised. You go to see a Stallone film, I fucking want Stallone.
I know he has been in some real stinkers before, but is this Stallone’s first foray into straight to video?
Way back when, Stallone signed a three picture deal with Cannon to do Cobra and Over the Top. I’m not sure what the third film was, maybe there wasn’t one since Over the Top was so bad. Who would have thought that a movie about arm wrestling wouldn’t do well?
Stallone took the deal because of the promise of creative freedom they’d give him. Maybe this is just another example of that. He signed a three picture deal with… as I’m looking it seems to be with EFO films. They make a lot of these types of movies. They give it a big enough budget that it doesn’t look too cheap, but not enough that it should be in theaters. Instead of a budget of 100 million, you get like a 9 million dollar budget. I’m not saying you need a large budget to make a good film, but the way these types of films are mass produced, good luck finding decent talent behind it. They’re for hire jobs with very little passion involved. Everyone is just there to collect a paycheck, giving the bare minimum.
And yet, I keep watching them. I’ve seen just about every straight to video Nic Cage film. I know, not something someone should ever brag about but I love Nic Cage, only a true fan could watch his entire VOD catalog.
He was just in a new one actually, 211. It was fucking terrible, but I watched it. I knew it wasn’t going to be good, but I watched it. I got no one else to blame but myself.
Stallone has two more of these straight to video films left, a film called Backtrace and yet another sequel to Escape Plan with Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station. How much do you want to bet it has the exact same plot as the last two films? Maybe he’ll actually be the lead again this time around. Him and his new plastic face.
So what is Escape Plan 2 about? Well, have you seen the first Escape Plan movie? It’s exactly that but minus the budget, charm, or talent the first film had.
I know I said they usually give these films a big enough budget that it could fool the audience into thinking they were seeing a real movie, but they must have missed that memo on this one. I mean, Stallone’s new facelift won’t pay for itself.
The prison this time is just a black empty room with some leftover mechanical doors they got from the set of Stargate SG-1. The idea is that the only time you can leave your cell is to fight other inmates. This might be an interesting idea if they used a real prison. Hell, I’d take an actual room. Instead we get this empty black void most of the film takes place in.
Stallone reprises his role as Ray Breslin, an expert in breaking out of any prison. He runs a security company that tests out just how secure your prison really is.
He has all but retired from the actual prison breaking, leaving that job up to his young protégé Shu Ren. But when Shu gets taken along with his billionaire tech mogul friend, Ray has to gather the team and track them down.
As I’m a big fan of the Amazon Studios series Bosch, I was pleasantly surprised to see Titus Welliver pop up in this as the main villain “The Zookeeper”. But seeing him have a kungfu fight with Shu towards the end was kind of terrible but in a funny way.
This movie isn’t even fun as a death match film, like Bloodsport or Kickboxer type, seeing as the fight matches last maybe a second before it’s all over. You aren’t even allowed to enjoy that.
Shu just kicks them in the face once and that’s the end of that. Now let’s have more scenes of them standing around a black void whispering about how to break out.
The prison they are trapped in is called Hades. It is underground, operated by robots and is constantly shifting like the cube from the film Cube.
I know I kind of brushed past the whole “robot” thing, but yeah, this film, which I believe is set in current present time, has fully operational floating robots. There’s even a scene at the end where they have to smash one of the robots to shut down the prison.
The people that run the prison have kidnapped Shu and his rich pal because his buddy has created a way to connect satellites or something, gaining control over everything… I don’t know, it’s dumb. He created it so no one else can ever use it? What?
Once that character shows up you know right away he’s the one behind things.
Eventually, and I’m not really clear how, Stallone comes to the conclusion that Shu has been taken to Hades, a black site prison that no one should know about. So he teams up with Bautista, a bartender to find this prison and break out Shu.
Bautista wasn’t even in the first one was he? I don’t think he was, yet they treat his character like he is someone we should know. Maybe I’m confusing him with Vinnie Jones, who was in the first.
Why not bring Arnold back? He’s been doing nothing but straight to video movies now, get him in this. I mean, it wouldn’t exactly make sense for his character to return, but it would make more sense than Bautista’s cameo.
I liked the first film well enough, it really had two things going for it that made that film work, Arnold and Stallone. I always wondered why these two never did a film together in the height of their careers. Too much rivalry? I think the only reason Stallone did Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot is because he heard Arnold was interested in the part, which he wasn’t, and was tricked into taking the gig.
The writing in this was so shit poor, it felt like they might have had 30 pages worth of material and thought they’d just win the rest.
The plot is so thin that I’ve pretty much covered everything already. Eventually the rest of the team also gets kidnapped and taken to Hades where they plan their escape.
There are these three albino hacker dudes there, one of which knows the layout of the prison, but no one knows which one it is.
Even their escape plan doesn’t make any damn sense. I believe their plan was to just riot, since the place is controlled by just robots anyway. I honestly started nodding off around this time, so I’m slightly unclear as to what exactly their plan entailed. But as I woke up it just seemed like the plan was give Bautista a shotgun and kill Titus Welliver’s character.
Turns out the prison was underground in like the middle of Chicago or something. I forget which city it was, but it was something dumb like that. This giant underground black site prison with robots and moving walls is located directly in the middle of a city without anyone noticing. Yeah, that’s believable. About as believable as Stallone’s new wrinkles free 70 year old face.
Escape Plan 2: Hades gets a giant SKIP IT rating from me. It’s bad, even for these types of straight to video movies go, this is bad. But is it the worst thing Stallone has made? I mean, Driven might be one of the worst films ever made, a film has to be pretty bad to compete with that. I have still yet to see Rhinestone, so who knows.
This garbage is all that more disappoint once you realize this is Stallone, who has made some really good behind bars films, that’s kind of his thing. Tango & Cash, Lock Up, Judge Dredd… okay, maybe not that last one.
Want EARLY access to our videos, uploads, and movie/script reviews? Members get them FIRST! Follow this link to our Discussion Forum.
And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.