Monday, 21 October 2013



Suitable For Vegetarians.

115 Minutes. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio, Faran Tahi & Sam Neil. Director: Mikael Håfström.

What do you get when you put two ageing action star, Hollywood hard-men behind bars and give them their own shot at a 'Great Escape'? No not 'Geriatric Prison Break', but 'Escape Plan' starring the two biggest and best action heroes of all-time, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The two 'Expendable' stars show they are anything but the name of their comeback and middle-age proud franchise with another great year to add to their 'Terminator', 'Rocky', 'Rambo' and 'Predator' legends. These last action heroes started the year greatly with Arnie's 'The Last Stand' and Sly's 'Bullet To The Head' shot and teaming up together for the perfect partnership in popular guilty pleasure popcorn movies they finish a 12 months that proceeds an 'Expendables' sequel (with even more grey gods of wrinkled muscle) for a trilogy year. Some guys their age will be pushing for their pension, not weights, but these two strongmen continue to flex the entertainment talents they never want to put to waste.

The kings of movie reference catchphrases from Youtube dedications to those you recite with your friends in work, add more to the "get to the choooper" and "Adriannnnnnne" soundbites, even if sometimes it sounds like you need subtitles with their films. I swear it sounded like "veterinarian" (that would still be a funny pet name), but Schwarzenegger in a classically instant moment tells Stallone "you hit like a vegetarian" in the middle of a big, bruising fight that could muscle up with actors generations their junior. You can add that line to the "that's OK, I don't shop here" (in response to a bombers threat to explode a mall) and "I'll be back" ranks. With Sylvester adding more and more picture plans to his action storytelling resume and Arnold sporting a maths teachers grey hair and beard and a gym teachers physique the pair show any young buck or critical ink, that they are rewriting the notion that this is a young mans game. Funny, formidable and with a chemistry that ignites with as much camaraderie as competitiveness there's not much between these two in terms of whose better. The argument of the world strongest action hero is rebirthed with the return of the immense popularity of these two superhero actors punch for punch.

This good escapes action plan is a perfect one. More than your average con artist, Stallone is an expert in breaking out of prisons from solitary confinement to the run of a free man, but when he is put in a hi-tech institute with a waring warden (a step down from playing Jesus Christ, Jim Caviezel steps up the sinister and slick, popular evil villain role) you know its going to have to be an inside job. To battle those Loki and Khan solitary glass cages and masked uniformed, sentinel guards, the Houdini of the cell-block is going to need the guy you ask for in the yard if you need a favour. When that man is the former Mr. Universe and a guy that's gone toe to toe with everybody including the devil you know what makes for a master plan is also going to make one of the more fun and entertaining action flicks that's the right popcorn mix. Sure in this digital, sci-fi, superhero age this is the kind of 'Face/Off' film that would have been the biggest hit 10 years ago, while some of the more hi-technical aspects of this film make it look a little like it's trying to cheaply look ahead of its time, but when Arnie and Sly are making you laugh while making the bad-guys cry the bad rolls off so much that its all good. Writing a slick and sound script, also forgives some of the predictable elements that make some of the scripting lazier than James Franco's left eye.

Still when you have the Schwarz unloading a chopper machine gun and Stone sounding a lot smarter than he looks this is a refreshing rebooted action film and it's stars for a recycled age. Plus with two of the biggest names, faces and muscles of modern day movie history it's even easy to forget some of the other strong cast members through these tight and taught veins and strands of plots. Vincent D'Onofrio (complete with hand sanitiser), Amy Ryan (looking like Mary-Elizabeth Parker in disguise) and Faran Tahir (whose adding more great films to his 'Iron Man' and 'Elysium' 'ography') join a welcome, surprise return of Sam Neil and his new Dr. Alan Grant (who seems to be joining Arnie in a new grey bear and hair look just for men) to the post-90's movie screens. In this great cast yard there's even room on the bus for an ex-footballer (Vinnie Jones) and top-star rapper (50 Cent) who have already done time in a lot of movies with good behaviour. Getting the maximum laughs and bullets out of incarceration Sly and Arnie's movie parole is secure. These cell-mates plan one bar breaking movie that's going to set the good old days of simple but fresh action plots free. They may not be 25 but they've been doing this for life. These old meat eaters are making the young punchers look like vegetarians. Now toss that salad. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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