film & game reviews, the retro way.
Steven C. Miller
Curtis "50 Cent"Jackson
While 2013's Escape Plan was no masterpiece, it did tap into the dumb-fun action movie vibe of the two leads' heyday. The film was a simple and entertaining enough B-grade actioner with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger making a good team.
Although it's likely that most missed it, 2018 saw the release of sequel Escape Plan 2: Hades starring Sylvester Stallone and Dave Bautista. The film went straight to DVD in the US and yet, despite it being a flop overall, a third instalment is still currently in the works. The plot sees some of Ray Breslin's (Stallone) new recruits get kidnapped and thrown into Hades, a maximum security prison not unlike The Tomb from the last movie except it's always moving and shifting, making its layout hard to figure out, and some of the staff are actual robots.
Breslin attempts, with the help of his hacker friend Hush (50 Cent), former associate Trent (Dave Bautista) and others, to break his team out of Hades while Breslin's protégé Shu Ren (Huang Xiaoming), one of the prisoners, tries to understand the prison's inner workings. Eventually, everyone finds themselves in Hades and the real "escape plan" is finally put into motion.
Escape Plan's premise should have been an easy one to bank on in continuing sequels. Essentially, you could have just had Breslin tackle different types of prisons with the help of Schwarzenegger or other big name co-stars with a new hammy, villainous warden every time. Somehow, however, Hades is a convoluted mess and neither Stallone or Bautista get much screen time. Both really come into play in the film's last third and, until that point, we're mostly spending time with Shu Ren and other new, far less charismatic and entertaining leads.
This movie feels more like the fourth or fifth movie in a tired franchise than it does a straight-up sequel. The plot never really takes off, the new characters are dull, the writing is terrible, the twists are uninspired and the film ends abruptly, without any real ending. While Bautista, when he's actually in the movie, is likeable, the cinematography is at least competent and the prison's concept is appealing, this is all frankly half-assed.
What could have been a light-hearted and fun sequel turns out to be a surprisingly miserable experience that should alienate both newcomers and fans of the original. In the same way that The Expendables ran out of steam with its third film, this one completely deflates after just one movie.