Once incarcerated, Breslin soon finds all the fail-safes that he normally uses to ensure nothing goes wrong have been stripped from him, leaving him at the mercy of fellow inmates, the foaming at the mouth Warden Hobbs (Jim Caviezel), and sadistic second-in-command Drake (Vinnie Jones). Breslin's only friend on the inside is Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger), an accomplice of a mysterious international thief named Mannheim. The two work together to figure a way out of the prison, but seeing as the facility has been built using Breslin's own book on the subject as a guide, even with the prison doctor (Sam Neil) becoming sympathetic to Breslin's plight the prospects don't look too good.
Appearances aside, it's hard to believe anyone in the audience really thinks there's a chance either of the two stars will still be rotting in a cell when the end credits roll, but that's not the point. This is a movie about manly men doing manly things and coming up with clever ways to get out of their predicament. Along the way they'll toss out a few one liners, throw a few punches, and inevitably get their hands on the heavy artillery and mow down some bad guys. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and even the one “surprise” plot twist isn't likely to surprise most viewers.
The script may not be anything exceptional, but the direction by Mikael Håfström is solid and the two stars are in fine form. They come across tough and charismatic as always, not trying to deny their age or that it's slowed them down a bit, but not making too much of a big deal about it with lame senior citizen jokes like in their solo outings from earlier in the year. As for the villains, these are the kind of bad guys we want to see in old school action movies. Both Caviezel and Jones are given more than enough screen time to make us hate them, and both come to violently satisfying ends (I suppose I should say SPOILER ALERT, but really, what do you think is going to happen to the bad guys in a Stallone/Schwarzenegger team-up?). There's also a third “surprise” bad guy whose identity I will stay mum on, even though it's revealed fairly early on. One SPOILER per review is enough.
ESCAPE PLAN offers a little less in the way of action and groan-worthy one-liners than the two costars' eighties output, but that's kind of to be expected given this is a prison break film and not a “one man army” movie like COMMANDO or RAMBO. And hey, Sly and Arnie are getting up in years. You can't expect 'em to be as physical as they used to be – there's only so much human growth hormone can do. Still, the film and its stars give the audience what they came for: a fun, reasonably well made action film that appeals to nostalgia without wallowing in it. That may not quite add up to a good movie, but it's as good as it needs to be. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.