The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 11.4.13: Issue #280 - Escape Plan (2013)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 11.04.2013
In this issue I take a look at the action flick Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Ahnold Schwarzenegger, plus two TV Quick Hits, two new batches of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, and more. Check it out.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #280: Escape Plan (2013)
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that is really getting tired of all of this Lena Dunham shit, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and eighty, I take a look at the action flick that, despite a lackluster box office take, could still be playing in a theatre near you, Escape Plan, starring B-movie legends Sylvester Stallone and Ahnold Schwarzenegger.
Escape Plan (2013)
Escape Plan, originally known as The Tomb (it was also know at one point as Exit Plan according to imdb.com), is the kind of "high concept" action flick that, had it been made twenty-five years ago, would have stormed the box office and been the pop culture topic of discussion for several weeks. However, because it was released in the year 2013 and stars two action legends that, sadly, no longer command the same box office clout they once did, Escape Plan comes off as a movie throwback that is well made and incredibly entertaining but something no one important was asking for.
The flick stars Sylvester Stallone as Ray Breslin, a professional security consultant and prison escape specialist who finds himself trapped inside a scary, privately run maximum security prison run by a sadistic warden named Hobbes (Jim Caviezel). Breslin, who literally wrote the book on prison security (you will see the book cover several times), thought he was being contracted by the CIA to test the escapeability of a new black site prison meant to hold the worst terrorists in the world; but instead he finds himself stuck in a prison that is filled with people sent there by their enemies (essentially, people pay for you to be sent there). Breslin has no idea why he was sent to this hellhole, but he intends to find out after escaping. Because that's what Ray Breslin does.
While inside the Tomb, Breslin strikes up a sort of friendship with Emil Rottmayer (Ahnold Schwarzenegger), a Tomb veteran who desperately wants out, too. I say "sort of friendship" because, when breaking out of a prison Breslin usually relies only on himself and the two people he has working with him on the outside (Abigail, played by Amy Ryan, and a computer hacker named Hush played by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson). But because the Tomb is an unprecedented prison situation and Abigail and Hush have absolutely no idea where he is, Breslin decides to accept Rottmayer's help.
I really don't want to say any more about the plot as the movie does contain a few nifty surprises. It's fun watching Breslin figure out how the prison works and then come up with a plan to get out. Stallone engages in the kind of action movie heroics you expect him to (nothing over the top) but he also has to think on his feet and hold his emotions in check, something you don't see Stallone do all that often. Stallone also has the gravitas to make seemingly ridiculous scenes come off as supremely plausible (Stallone's Breslin wrote the book on escaping prison so he would definitely know all kinds of seemingly random information about various things, like how to fool a security camera system and how to heat up a steel screw with a little piece of metal). Ahnold, in his third movie back after being governor of California, gives one of the best performances of his acting career as Rottmayer. Like Stallone, Ahnold engages in the kind of action movie hooey you expect him to (fist fights, slow motion gun battles, witty one liners), but he also acts in several scenes, displaying the kind of depth of emotion that he never had to before. Ahnold is also essentially playing a sidekick here, and because he doesn't have to carry the movie he can stretch himself a little. There are two scenes where Ahnold's Rottmayer is forced to be vulnerable and those scenes will blow you away.
Caviezel does a great job as Hobbes the prison warden. He isn't a sadistic bastard at first; he's just an asshole that runs a prison and puts together butterfly jewel models in his spare time. As the movie progresses, though, Hobbes becomes a supreme piece of shit and you can't wait to see him destroyed (I know I couldn't). The great Vinnie Jones is, well, great as Drake the guard. Drake, too, is a piece of shit that you can't wait to see obliterated (his opening scene is one of the most offensive sequences you're likely to see in a major movie release this year). And also be on the lookout for what Hobbes thinks about God. Considering Caviezel's acting history it's hilarious.
Amy Ryan and 50 Cent don't get to do much as Ray's helpers Abigail and Hush, but what they do get to do is admirable. The immortal Sam Neill, who for some reason wasn't featured in the movie's advertising campaign, is brilliant as Dr. Kyrie, the Tomb's physician. Watching him struggle with what to do when he finds out who Breslin is is why we all love Sam Neill.
Faran Tahir, as Javed, is brilliant, too. You won't see his performance coming. You also won't see Caitriona Balfe's performance as CIA agent Jessica Miller coming, either. Awesome, unexpected stuff. And Vincent D'Onofrio is sleazy as hell as Breslin's business partner Lester Clark. You won't be surprised by what his character does, but I think you'll dig what happens to him. It's messed up, yes, but he deserves it.
I loved every minute of Escape Plan. It's the kind of movie that I wish Hollywood would make more often. But, as I said at the beginning, Escape Plan is a throwback movie that no one important necessarily asked for. There's nothing socially redeeming about it, and it doesn't strike a blow for or against anything. It's just a well made action movie that's all about kicking ass and having fun. I wish someone had put this movie together back in the mid-1990's, when both Stallone and Ahnold were bigger stars. Maybe then it would have had a larger box office impact. The movie also would have likely had a bigger box office impact if it had younger actors in starring roles. If Chris Pine and Matt Damon had been the stars the movie probably would have made a ton of money. But those younger actors didn't get asked or didn't agree to do it. Rambo and the Terminator agreed to do it, and while they no longer matter like they once did, they both did a great job and will get the accolades they deserve when the movie is "discovered/rediscovered" in a few years. Because that will happen eventually. The world just isn't listening at the moment.
Escape Plan is a great time at the movies. If it's still playing at a movie theatre near you and you have time to see it, see it. It's worth checking out on the big screen. But if it isn't playing near you, be sure to track it down when it hits home video and see it that way. It really is worth it.
See Escape Plan. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 20+ (I wouldn't be surprised if the body count is closer to 50).
Explosions: Several, including a gigantic one that will blow you away.
Doobage:Colorado, a Bible, wet toilet paper, exploding car, multiple explanations, puzzles, a book, New Orleans, Taser attack, neck injection, a van kidnapping, scary prison guards, beatings, a black barcode, butterfly jewel models, praying, a prison riot, solitary, water from a glass pitcher, waterboarding, a picture of a guy's ass, brownie eating, another major prison brawl, steel expansion, insanity, a massive ship, a beating montage, nasty stitches, a handmade astronomy tool, a racial brawl, exploding door, double handgun attack, engine room shenanigans, knife attack, stair injuries, chopper attack, a slow motion machine gun attack, a massive explosion, and a great ending.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Sylvester Stallone locked in a federal prison, Sylvester Stallone reading the Bible, Sylvester Stallone escaping from prison, 50 Cent, Vincent D'Onofrio, a long explanation, Taser attack, Vinnie Jones, Jim Caviezel, a prison hell, Ahnold Schwarzenegger, multiple instances of solitary confinement, Sam Neill, Ahnold drawing a picture of a guy's ass, brownie eating, several major prison brawls, a beating the fuck out of Sylvester Stallone montage, the Hippocratic oath, "Say Cheese!," exploding door, chopper attack, a slow motion machine gun attack, a massive explosion, and a great ending.
Best lines: "Hey, fruitcake, let's go!," "Don't spend it all in one place," "Man the fuck up!," "Put him to sleep," "Portos, don't get killed in here," "That's your favor? Sometimes favors hurt," "You hit like a vegetarian!," "You get me that piece of metal I may be able to get you out of here," "I break out of prisons for a living," "It's good. It's disgusting," "Where are we? I don't know," "You always gotta have a 'plan B'," "You want to die? You want to get out?," "I want to be seen by my God, Mr. Hobbes," "You better be fucking right," "God is great! Yeah, whatever," "Have a lovely day, asshole!," "You are not user friendly," and "Sleepy time motherfucker!"
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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- White House Down: I missed this big budget action flick when it was in theatres, which I'm kind of annoyed about because I really wanted to be one of those people that saw both Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down in a theatre. I'm surprised that it tanked as bad as it did, but then you never really know what the movie going public is going to show up for. I'll definitely check it out now that it's on home video.
- Under the Dome the Complete 1st Season: This CBS summer series based on the Stephen King novel was a massive hit, and a second season is on the way. I didn't think it would last past week three. I thought the show was pretty decent, although the way the season ended was kind of lame. Why the cliffhanger? What kind of hooey is that?
- Killer Holiday: This low budget slasher flick looks pretty good. You don't see that many slasher movies set in abandoned amusement parks. This flick could show up next October during the 7th Annual Slasher Movie Celebration, so be on the lookout for that.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
"Wait, what's going on?"
- Is it me, or has Blue Bloods become more right wing?: To a certain extent, the Friday night CBS cop show Blue Bloods has always been a "right wing" show, but it seems to me that, this season, the show has become incredibly right wing. Show star Tom Selleck seems to call out some "misguided liberal social program" every week; Donnie Wahlberg attacked "limousine liberals" one week, and Bebe Neuwirth's new character's shaming on the NYPD gun range are prime examples of this new rightwing drift. Does the show really need this? Isn't the show's not very courageous "pro-police" message enough?
I mean, how many TV shows are there on TV at this very moment that are anti-police? And how many shows are just so liberal that they spend each and every week attacking the United States and "traditional family values?"
I'm hoping that there's some grand plan at work here and that the show's right wing political content is going to taper off. I'd much rather see a show about a family that deals with cop shit during the day and family shit at night and on the weekends. The weekly family dinner is always the highlight of each episode. Perhaps the show should do one full episode that's just the weekly family dinner. We could see them prepare the food, eat the food, have dessert, and discuss whatever the hell is going on the family.
Am I the only one who has noticed this shift? Am I nuts?
- Megyn Kelly's new prime time show is awful: Megyn Kelly is a smart woman and easy on the eyes, yes, but her new Fox News prime time talk show, which is essentially the same show she did when she was on during the day, is just awful. I have no idea why anyone, even strident right wing yahoos, would want to watch it for more than a few minutes at a time. I also fail to see how this show could become "appointment television," even for political junkies.
Now, I am a tad annoyed with the whole "I am not a female Bill O'Reilly" claim that she made when her new show started. It's not as tightly controlled as O'Reilly's show, but to suggest that she isn't as angry or right wing as O'Reilly is simply ludicrous. She doesn't yell like he does, but she's putting out the same hooey. Where is the liberal media pointing this out?
Yeah. "Liberal media." I'm not going to stop watching Rachel Maddow's show. Even if you don't like her politics I don't see how you can attack her for anything. If she isn't the most pleasant person on TV she's definitely in the top 5.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Caitriona Balfe
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Prometheus Trap: This is yet another low budget sci-fi action flick with decent looking special effects, so right there it's an automatic rental. I just wonder how many people are going to think this is related to the Ridley Scott sci-fi epic Prometheus. I'm surprised, though, that this isn't coming to us from the fine folks at The Asylum. This seems like something they'd do.
- Ridge War Z: This mega low budget zombie flick looks shockingly original, although I have a feeling that it isn't half as original as it seems. Well, regardless of how original it is, I think it looks kind of fun. The fine folks at Brain Damage Films usually give us fun flicks.
- Amnesiac: I'm not sure what to make of this flick. Is it really going to be as messed up as the trailer suggests, or is it going to be some other kind of movie? I mean, am I going to be wondering whether or not any of it was real by the end? That's the vibe I'm getting from the trailer.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to "Cheryl," the woman from North Dakota who said she planned on handing out "your kid is fat" letters to fat "trick or treaters" on Halloween. I have no idea if "Cheryl" actually handed out these "fat" letters, but the fact that she thought she needed to is simply beyond comprehension. Forget the possible self esteem issues that could develop as a result of this kind of thing, and instead think about how ridiculous this "stand against childhood obesity" is. If fat kids are such a problem why take a stand on the one day that's supposed to be set aside for candy consumption? Shouldn't you be making all of us aware of this massive problem on days when kids are not supposed to be eating candy?
Fucking food Nazis and busy body healthy eating cocksuckers. They just can't stop the self righteous bullshit.
And then there's Kanye West, for claiming that his fiancé Kim Kardashian is "the most intriguing woman in the world right now." Intriguing how? Because the scandal sheet celebrity gossip world exploded when Kardashian took a picture of her gigantic ass and everyone saw it? I hate to break it to Kanye but the pop culture celebrity news world is not the world; it's just one part of a vast world of various things. There are people on this planet who have absolutely no idea who you or your girlfriend are and they don't give a shit and they're very fine with that. Perhaps you should become very fine with that concept, too, and just accept that Vogue doesn't want to put Kim Kardashian on its cover.
Just calm down, man. Calm down.
And finally there's Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, for claiming that his father was "just making a joke" when he said that President Obama should "go back to Kenya." Senator Cruz wants the world to believe that his father is a man of integrity (he's a pastor!) and that this "joke" is just not big deal and ultimately yet another example of the liberal media trying to destroy him and America.
Yes, because the liberal media made the Senator's father engage in a disgusting attack that's built on a racist lie. The liberal media always does that kind of thing. Why can't the teabagger universe ever take responsibility for its own reprehensible behavior? Why is everything a massive conspiracy? Why?
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
Going into the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday at Texas there were three drivers with a realistic chance at the Sprint Cup title; Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Jeff Gordon. After the race at Texas, two drivers are left with a realistic shot at the trophy and one is left wondering what the fuck happened. Jimmie Johnson dominated the race, leading the most laps and leaving the track with a 7 point lead over Matt Kenseth, who could only manage a fourth place finish. Jeff Gordon wrecked in the first half of the race and ended up several hundred laps down, all because of a massive tire failure. Tire failure? Why does that keep happening?
I missed the Truck race on Friday night, but I did manage to see some of the Nationwide race on Saturday and there were several massive tire failures in that race, too. What the heck has happened to Goodyear's reliability? The ESPN announcers kept talking about the old, abrasive surface at Texas and how it always chewed up tires, but I don't remember that kind of thing happening at Texas before. And why are old track surfaces such a problem now?
The Cup race was a bit of a bore, mostly because of the dominance of Jimmie Johnson. The only way Johnson was going to lose was a tire failure. Kenseth was assessed a pit road penalty for speeding on pit road, but even if he didn't have that penalty I doubt he would have been battling Johnson for the lead. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished second, but, hell, I don't remember how he even did it. He didn't seem all that fast all day.
Phoenix is up next for all three of NASCAR's major series, with Trucks on Friday night, Nationwide on Saturday, and Sprint Cup on Sunday. I will hopefully be able to see the Cup race. The Nationwide race should be a good one, as Sam Hornish has won there before and it's his last real chance at beating Austin Dillon for the Nationwide title. I may actually record that race so I can see it.
Over in Indycar there isn't much going on at the moment. Dallara has officially been named as the car manufacturer for the new Indy Lights car that's set to debut in 2015. According to this article over at indycar.com, the series wants this new car to be relatively affordable while also being "technologically advanced," which just sounds like a recipe for disaster. I have yet to see any single seat open wheel series anywhere in the world that has figured out how to be both affordable and technologically advanced. I'm also leery of any new car that will no doubt cost more than the current one, especially from a series that has trouble getting more than ten cars for any race (the series hasn't said that the new car will cost more, but the DW-12 was set to cost less than the old IRL car and that didn't happen, so why would this be any different?).
Now, if the Indycar organization was serious about creating a viable second tier series it wouldn't spend loads of money building a new car or trying to get European open wheel teams to abandon GP2 to come and race in America. Instead, Indycar would be better off trying to get oval short track and club road course people involved. Have Indy Lights races at short tracks across the country, let the richer short track car owners see what the Indy Lights Series is all about, and some of them will become team owners. The series would also be able to generate more American drivers that way, along with a grass roots fan base (if the local guy makes it big in the major leagues the people who watched him come up through the ranks will become fans).
Of course, since this plan involves a maximum of effort there's no way anyone in Indycar would even entertain thinking about doing any of it. Indycar would much rather sit back and let the prestige of the Indy 500 do all of the work, which is a plan that stopped working over twenty years ago. It's time to shake things up. At this point, I don't see how the series has anything to lose.
2013 champion Scott Dixon was on David Letterman last week. If you didn't get a chance to see it here you go:
Pretty cool, huh?
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Sylvester Stallone- Ray Breslin Ahnold Schwarzenegger- Emil Rottmayer Jim Caviezel- Hobbes Faran Tahir- Javed Amy Ryan- Abigail Sam Neill- Dr. Kyrie Vincent D'Onofrio- Lester Clark Vinnie Jones- Drake Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson- Hush Caitriona Balfe- Jessica Miller Matt Gerald- Roag
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom Screenplay by Miles Chapman and Jason Keller, based on a story by Miles Chapman
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Rated R for violence and language Runtime- 115 minutes