Veteran heroes blast way out (NC16)

Veteran heroes blast way out (NC16)
Fellow prisoners Sylvester Stallone (left) as Ray Breslin and Arnold Schwarzenegger (right) as Emil Rottmayer use their wits to escape the top-secret prison.


116 minutes/Opens tomorrow/***

The story: Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a security expert who escapes from prisons to point out the flaws in them. For his latest assignment, he is planted inside a top-secret facility. Ray soon realises he has been incarcerated for good and will need the help of fellow prisoner Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to make his escape.

The action genre does not seem like a particularly kind one for older actors, given its rigorous physical demands.

And yet, SylvesterStallone, 67, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, 66, continue to shoot them up in cinemas as though it were the 1980s.

Recent titles featuring them such as The Expendables (2010) and The Last Stand (2013) served up action with a self-aware tone which poked fun at their ageing with references to aches and pains.

There are no such subtleties here.

Escape Plan is essentially a B-grade thriller with a straightforward high concept: Watch Sly and Arnie bust out of a state-of-the-art prison, which is as high concept as it gets for these two.

The cells are transparent and the inmates' every move is monitored by cameras.

There are no openings to the outside world and they have no idea if it is day or night. The guards are masked and heavily armed. In the cramped isolation cells, they get blinded by blazing artificial light.

Yet there is never any doubt Arnie and Sly's characters will escape. Still, there is a certain pleasure in watching how the carefully set-up hurdles are overcome one by one.

Just do not quibble too much over the plot details.

One of the challenges facing Sly, as security expert Ray Breslin, is that he has to figure out where the prison is located.

So he manages to improvise a sextant from a pair of spectacles and a pen which, miraculously enough, provides a detailed and accurate reading even though he had nothing to calibrate the rough-hewn instrument with.

This should definitely make it to the list of skills every camper needs.

What was also fun was watching the two veteran stars play off each other as they team up against the silkily menacing warden played by Jim Caviezel, currently one of the good guys on TV's surveillance thriller Person Of Interest.

Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom (The Rite, 2011) does a decent job with the pacing. He is also canny enough to give fans what they want, which means Sly and Arnie get to throw punches and also mow down the baddies with machine guns at some point.

It means you will not have to plot your own escape from the cinema hall before the movie is over.

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