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‘Escape Plan’: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger stuck in dull thriller


Ray Breslin Sylvester Stallone

Emil Rottmayer Arnold Schwarzenegger

Willard Hobbes Jim Caviezel

Drake Vinnie Jones

Summit Entertainment presents a film directed by Mikael Hafstrom and written by Miles Chapman and Arnell Jesko. Running time: 116 minutes. Rated R (for violence and language throughout). Opens Friday at local theaters.

Updated: November 19, 2013 6:12AM

Sure, it’s fun to see the Governator and the Italian Stallion he-manning it up together feature-length for the first time — the screen is barely big enough to contain the two of them — but the prison-break movie “Escape Plan” is unworthy of the momentous occasion.

Not only dull but impossible to take seriously for even a moment, “Escape Plan” opens with a long, confusing intro involving Sylvester Stallone escaping from a federal prison. That’s what he does for a living, as it turns out, as a highly paid consultant who’s incarcerated in the country’s toughest lockups just long enough to figure out their weak points, bust out and annoy their wardens by explaining how he did it.

Breslin accepts his next gig from a CIA agent who wants him to test a secret new super-prison for national security threats, over the objections of his support team (50 Cent, Amy Ryan) — though his vaguely slippery-looking partner (Vincent D’Onofrio) seems to think it’s a fine idea. The next thing he knows, Breslin finds himself locked up without the usual fail-safes in the most challenging hoosegow of his career, with only one man on his side: the equally aging-yet-still-muy-macho Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger).

The two ’80s action icons have the same natural chemistry here that they exhibited in smaller doses in the “Expendables” movies, but that’s about all “Escape Plan” has to offer. Instead of seeming dauntingly ominous, the escape-proof prison basically looks like a giant Costco with glass-walled cages instead of groceries. And everything that happens in there is 100 percent routine: you’ve got your cruel warden (Jim Caviezel), your sadistic head guard (Vinnie Jones), your staged brawls to get into solitary confinement, your conscience-stricken prison doctor (Sam Neill), your enemy who becomes an ally (Faran Tahir) and, of course, your climactic dash for freedom.

On the plus side, Schwarzenegger takes a wink-wink approach to his role (Rottmayer supposedly has links to an international banking-system Robin Hood), relishing lines like “You hit like a vegetarian.” Stallone insists on playing it straight, which becomes increasingly hard to buy as “Escape Plan” asks us to accept that Breslin, in addition to being an escape artist, is also a sophisticated businessman, an attorney, an expert on metallurgy and oceanic conditions, etc. Not to mention a master of hand-to-hand combat.

These guys deserved something better than this. And so did we.

Bruce Ingram is a local freelance writer.

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