Critics' review: Escape Plan is a Stallone, Schwarzenegger fest

Swedish director Mikael Hafström's Escape Plan is a film that traces the titular plan of two prisoners played by Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger to get out of a high security prison. Critics don't love the film. But if you're a Stallone/Schwarzenegger fan, this one's for you.

"The story never really makes sense, but that’s not the point of this type of movie. It’s to see action stars do their thing, and it’s nice for Stallone and Schwarzenegger that they’re still out there doing it, or a version of it," writes Bill Goodykoontz in AZ Central.

Though he adds, "But it doesn’t mean we still have to watch."

"Action fans -- particularly devotees of brainless '80s shoot-em-ups -- may find enough to like here, particularly the preposterous mayhem of the third act. Moviegoers expecting things like dialogue and plot, though, may want to take note of theater exits for a quick getaway," declares Scott Bowles in USA Today.

You can't expect much else from such a beefy flick, can you?

However, Bowles thinks Schwarzenegger saves the show. "If anyone acquits himself in (Escape) Plan, it's Schwarzenegger, looking good in a goatee and salt-and-pepper hair. While he need not rehearse award speeches, he gets most of the film's few laughs, and even switches seamlessly from English to German in some scenes. Schwarzenegger seems to be the only one here who correctly takes the film as a lark."

So, Arnie is good, eh?

Colin Covert disagrees. "Escape Plan is as functional as a plastic fork and about as memorable. The Last Stand, Schwarzenegger’s criminally underappreciated post-politics comeback movie, is infinitely more entertaining," writes Covert in Star Tribune.

But Covert likes the non-lead performances.

"Amid the chattering machine guns, high-tailing helicopters and orange fireballs, a well-stocked supporting cast lends the enterprise some class. Vincent D’Onofrio plays Breslin’s business partner, a compulsive hand-washer who must buy his Purell by the drum. Jim Caviezel plays the super-prison’s softspoken, sadistic warden, whose butterfly collection suggests he’s a big fan of Papillon. Sam Neill brings scowling intelligence to the small role of the prison doctor, and Cockney head-banger Vinnie Jones goes full rage-aholic as the security staff’s chief brute."

Mick LaSalle appreciates the film for what it attempts -- being a star packed show. "It succeeds in doing something difficult: It blends the Stallone and Schwarzenegger universes. This might seem like no big deal - weren't they both huge action stars of the 1980s? Yes, but there the similarity ends."

"Just as Ray (Stallone) and Emile (Schwarzenegger) develop a convincing rapport, so do the two actors. It's a pleasure to watch them together," he adds warmly.

"Mikael Hafström pushes the suspense buttons efficiently, and the plot twists are disguised well enough for the not-very-demanding crowd this film will draw," Neil Genzlinger writes appreciatively in NY Times.

But the dynamic duo fail to impress him. "The scenes with Mr. Stallone and Mr. Schwarzenegger are a little disappointing — it’s their first pairing as top-billed co-stars, yet the script never gives them the kind of memorable exchange that makes fans howl with delight. But all in all, Escape Plan does what it sets out to do."

All's well that ends well?