Saturday, February 15, 2014

Escape Plan Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Action legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger reunite in the intense, action-packed prison break thriller Escape Plan, has now arrived on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD UltraViolet), DVD (plus Digital UltraViolet), Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. In this exciting movie, Stallone stars as a prison security expert who must enlist the help of Schwarzenegger to escape from the most secure prison ever built. Boasting an exceptional, all-star cast, the film also features Jim Caviezel (TV’s “Person of Interest”), Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (Fire with Fire), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) and Vinnie Jones (X-Men: The Last Stand) with Vincent D’Onofrio (TV’s “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”) and Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone).
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Growing up in the 80s, I like many other young boys was a fan of both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and their respective franchises. I still am truth be told, and the prospect of them appearing in a movie together would have blown my young mind. They first teamed up off-screen when they along with Bruce Willis started the Planet Hollywood restaurants, but on-screen it was the three of them for The Expendables. I don't really think that one counted though as Schwarzenegger and Willis were essentially cameos. Then The Expendables 2 came out and that was more of a real team up but there were so many other actors to showcase it still wasn't exactly the team up fans had been dreaming of. I'm sure Stallone and Schwarzenegger realized this so they decided to join forces to headline this movie which was originally called The Tomb before it was changed to the Escape Plan.

This first real team up features Sylvester Stallone as Ray Breslin who is a specialist at escaping maximum security prisons. His company which he co-owns with his partner Lester Clark (Vincent D'Onofrio) is hired to test the vulnerabilities of the prisons by sending in Breslin as a prisoner where he observes guard patterns and any weaknesses that help enable his eventual escape. Once he escapes the prisons, he meets with the authorities as is well paid once he explains how he did it and what they can do to improve their security. One day, a CIA agent named Jessica Miller (Caitriona Balfe) meets with Ray's team to offer them a multi-million dollar deal to test a top secret prison to see if it is escape proof. Miller won't give any details on the prison or where it's located, which goes against Ray's safety protocol rules and makes his team uneasy, especially Abigail (Amy Ryan) who reminds him of that fact. Ray is convinced to do it due to the money and the assurances from his partner Lester and he allows himself to be "captured" after he assumes the identity of a Spanish terrorist named Anthony Portos.

Things go bad quickly, as the tracking microchip that was planted in his arm is forcibly removed with a knife and he witnesses a prisoner being killed on the way to the prison before he is knocked out. When he awakes, he discovers that he is in a massive prison complex that's filled with clear cages for prisoners and no windows to the outside world. He meets some fellow inmates, one name Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who is somewhat friendly and another inmate named Javed (Faran Tahir) who is not. Ray also meets the prison warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), who believes in firm discipline and who is ironically a fan of Breslin's book on security and designed the prison's security from it. Hobbes has no idea of Ray's true identity or the safety passcode for Ray to be released and ignores Ray when he tries to tell him the truth.

Left with no other choice, Ray begins to do what he's the best at - trying to find a way to escape the prison. Rottmayer joins his efforts and together the two begin to observe the guards and their patterns as well as look for any weaknesses to be found. Hobbes orders his second in command Drake (Vinne Jones) to start beating Ray to demoralize him, which results in Ray getting sent to the prison doctor (Sam Neill) who seems far more concerned about the prisoners than anyone else at the prison. Ray and Rottmayer start to deliberately get into trouble so that they can be sent to the solitary confinement cells where they are bombarded with hot light that are designed to weaken and dehydrate prisoners. While they are there Ray discovers that while the floor is made out of aluminum, the rivets are steel which he knows is susceptible to heat. A plan starts to form in Ray's mind but he knows he will need more help than just Rottmayer. He knows how hard it's going to break out of this prison especially since it was built to be escape proof based on his own book.

I enjoyed the Escape Plan and it was great seeing Stallone and Schwarzenegger star together in something more than a couple of minutes. They have a lot of chemistry together and a similar approach to how they portray action. While Stallone was in a more thoughtful mode thanks to his role, Schwarzenegger still kept his usual swagger but the two worked great together. The supporting cast were all good too and it was good to see Sam Neill again even if it was in a thankless role and Jim Caviezel was good as the ruthless warden. You don't see much of Vincent D'Onofrio, Amy Ryan, or Curtis Jackson in this movie but they do their roles well. There are some big plot holes in this movie and there is a lot of talent here that didn't get used as much as they should have been which is too bad. I think a lot of this movie was left on the cutting room floor but that sometimes happens. While I would have preferred a more action packed movie for Stallone and Schwarzenegger, Escape Plan is a pretty good movie and the prison escape genre is probably a more fitting mode for their age. It has a lot of suspense and a few surprises and the combined star power of the two main stars goes a long way.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks very good as it should since it was digitally shot with a Arri Alexa camera in high definition. The detail is very sharp, especially during the various close ups of the actors which shows every line on their face and every hair on Schwarzenegger's face is shown distinctly. The colors are excellent but the prison has been deliberately color graded to reflect the cold blue palette that's so popular with Michael Bay and James Cameron. Contrast is strong and the black levels are dark and inky which is good since a lot of this movie takes place in darkened areas. 
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
Escape Plan's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is utterly fantastic as it offers an lively surround mix that really adds quite a bit of immersion into the movie. Every channel is well used to deliver cross channel directional effects which are accurately placed. The dialogue is clear and never drowned out by the sound effects or the music. The LFE channel really kicks in during some of the action sequences and you will feel it! All in all, this is an incredible lossless mix that will make fans happy.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
I was hoping for more extras that this but what has been included is pretty good. All of the extras are in high definition.
  • Audio Commentary - We hear from director Mikael Håfström and co-writer Miles Chapman who despite being recorded on different coasts, manage to still join together to fill us in on the making of the movie and the challenges they faced in bringing it to life. 
  • Executing the Plan: The Making of Escape Plan - A little over twenty minutes long, this is the the best extra included as far as the stars go and for learning about the filming. We hear from the cast and crew who talk about getting to film in an abandoned NASA building which was so huge that they could build their entire set in it and how it's the reason the film looks like it had a giant budget. We also see some behind the scenes footage from making the film. 
  • Maximum Security: The Real Life Tomb - This is another featurette that runs about twenty minutes but it's not focused in the movie but instead is a look at real prisons and how they are secured. We hear from those who are paid to safeguard prisons and from others who think that any prison can be escaped from. It's pretty interesting and a surprising extra to find on here but fans that want to know more about how prisons are secured will undoubtedly enjoy this. 
  • Clash of the Titans - Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger both praise each other and offer their opinions on the other. Both were aware that fans wanted to see them together more than there were in the Expendables movies, so they teamed up to make this one for them. Both men seem to genuinely like each other and both are pretty effusive about the other which was nice to see.
  • Deleted Scenes - There are twelve deleted scenes which most of them are essentially extensions of already included scenes but they do clear up some of the plot holes in the film and I wonder why they were cut.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Escape Plan is a fun movie to watch especially if you are a fan of Stallone and/or Schwarzenegger (and who isn't?). This movie is jam packed with good actors even if most of them aren't used that much, but all of them contribute to make this a better movie. The Blu-ray itself offers good video quality and an excellent lossless mix as well as decent extras that could have been better. If you've been wanting to see these two action stars do something more than share a few minutes together in the Expendables movies, then you need to check this out!

Order your copy today!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...