Escape Plan 3 Review
Well... it's better than Escape Plan 2
The second sequel to the film that most didn't even know had earned a first provides an hour of filler and a final act peppered with Stallone training for Rambo: Last Blood.Escape Plan was a mildly diverting little B-movie action thriller which finally paired Stallone and Schwarzenegger, delivering unabashed entertainment derived from a simple premise of having the two locked up in a high tech prison, trying to escape.
Nobody was expecting a sequel, but we got two, filmed back to back - reportedly - and the end result would support such an assertion, seeing Stallone barely present in the first sequel, which had an entirely new character caught up in his own high tech prison, and Stallone teaming up with Dave Bautista to shoot a couple of people along the way and then turn up at the end for a smackdown. It's tough watching a sequel to a film starring Stallone and Schwarzenegger without Schwarzenegger, but it's tougher still when even Stallone is barely in it, and the end result had maybe 10 minutes of screen time worth watching. Escape Plan 3 comfortably doubles that.
Escape Plan 2 was dire, and 3 only scores points for a more satisfying finale
The story, which is woefully convoluted in an attempt to tie everything back to the first film, takes a simple revenge tale and stretches it to breaking point. Stallone's expert safecracker Ray Breslin is targeted by Lester (Devon Sawa - Final Destination, Nikita), the son of Ray's ex-partner (played by Vincent D'Onofrio in flashbacks to the first film), who is out to punish anyone involved in the death of his corrupt father. To exact his retribution, rather than just cut to the chase and kidnap Ray's wife Abigail (Jaime King), or kill Ray's pointless stay-at-home tech guy (50 Cent), he kidnaps the daughter of the Hong Kong tech mogul who provides the tech equipment for all of these super-prisons. And then kidnap's Ray's wife, by which point Ray's mission to get the daughter back becomes personal. Or something.
Cynically reframed to appeal to the Chinese market, putting Max Zhang (Ip Man 3), Harry Shum (Crazy Rich Asians), and Malese Jow (The Shannara Chronicles) front and centre in what often feels like their very own movie. Shum has a fun but brief early fight, but it's Zhang who most impresses, which comes to a head in a great little fight with John Wick's Daniel Bernhardt (who, after going from The Matrix Revolutions to Wick to Logan to Atomic Blonde, deserves better than this). But really, this isn't Escape Plan; it's closer to the Expendables franchise in narrative and ensemble format, albeit with a C-movie.
Unfortunately, you don't come to Escape Plan 3 for anybody other than Stallone (although, after Escape Plan 2, expectations may be tempered somewhat), and whilst he's around much more than last time, that's hardly a plus point when he doesn't really do anything. Firstly, there's no Escape Plan here (which is perhaps why this is going by the title Escape Plan: The Extractors in most territories), and Stallone spends most of his time mumbling, bumping fists with Dave Bautista, and doodling on a map, before exacting a terrible assault which leads to a mildly diverting final act which comes a long hour too late.
Escape Plan 2 had maybe 10 minutes of screen time worth watching. Escape Plan 3 comfortably doubles that.
Stallone is mostly upstaged by Bautista (who makes the 'plan' look like a shambles, stealing the show by basically walking through the front door with a fabulously overpowered shotgun which makes Terry Crews automatic shotgun in The Expendables look positively tame), and kills a whopping four people, but at least goes all Rambo to do it. There really is nothing Escape Plan about this, with Stallone's character in the first movie a long way away from the kind of guy who impales people or stabs them in the gut repeatedly. But Stallone is clearly getting back in the zone for his upcoming Rambo: Last Blood (which looks promisingly violent), which makes for a modicum of final act brutality (and an odd speech about having a violent childhood, again, channelling Rambo) but doesn't really make a jot of sense. Nor, more importantly, does it make up for the painstaking ride to get there.
Fans of Stallone with some time on their hands could probably stitch together Escape Plan 2 and Escape Plan 3 and get a halfway decent 80 minute actioner which has Stallone in the whole thing and, more importantly, has him actually involved in the action. But on their own, these do not stand up as viable Stallone vehicles. Escape Plan 2 was dire, and 3 only scores points for a more satisfying finale, but the fact that they leave things open for yet another sequel makes you wonder whether the franchise is going to continue with or without Stallone, and whether anybody will really even notice.
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