Prison ain’t for Vegetarians

Escape Plan Trailer Review

Action film fans have waited for three decades to see the mountain of muscle and mumbling that is Sylvester Stallone team up with the Austrian institution that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2013 it has finally happened (The Expendables films don’t count). Terminator versus Rambo, Dutch versus Rocky, John Kimble versus the guy out of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; the playground argument of those born in the 80’s is about to be settled. Directed by…who am I kidding? No one cares! Arnie and Sly are in a proper film together.

The sound of a hammer hitting something hard, possibly a rock, an anvil or Sly’s head, opens the trailer. It is the sound of hard labour, the sound of jail, the sound of action! Smash cut to the inside of a ‘slammer’. A guard puts food on a tray and opens a hatch. Sly sits inside the cell in a bright orange boiler suit, his face drooping into his neck. He begins narrating in his usual, nasal, too tough to talk properly, drawl, like his mouth is made of fists. “A man confined thinks differently to someone on the outside, he sees things in a different way.” This is essentially one line, said twice, ‘in a different way’. What Sly means by this though, is no man on the ‘outside’, or woman for that matter, would stamp on a milk carton, pull off the plastic seal, which incidentally appears on no milk carton in the world, and put it over a key pad, conveniently located next to his food hatch, to get a code to unlock a door. I have to hand it to the ‘Italian Stallion’, I would never think to do that to get out of my house. I’d just use a key.

“A successful break-out depends on three things…” the voice-over continues as Sly makes bonbons and places them on the toilet, I don’t know how he plans to use these, but I imagine it will be fiendishly clever. “Knowing the layout…” Sylvester looks over his shoulder, presumably memorising the ‘layout’ of the whole prison in a single glance. “Understanding the routine…” Big Sly sticks his hand out of the hatch. Routine nailed. “…And help from the outside or in.” A woman in heels blows up a car. I don’t actually understand how this last bit ‘helps’, but Sly is soon out of the prison and calling someone from a payphone as cops circle him. Set up finished, bonbons unused, Sly is a criminal, roll production company credits.

But the trailer is playing with the audience, the old rope-a-dope, show them the right, bash them with the left – kapow! Sly is not a criminal, his job is to break out of prisons. Didn’t see that coming did you?! Who said action films are unbelievable and stupid?!

An attractive lawyer type lady talks to Sly at his desk. There is a new facility that houses the worst of societies criminals, the type that, “No Government wants on their books.” An odd turn of phrase, as if the Governments of the world are just giant casting agencies for criminals. “Yeah Barack, it’s D-Cams, I need a guy who is good with explosives and knives, got anyone on your ‘books’ that can help?” Anyway, the people that own these prisons need to know that they are escape proof. Sly looks serious. 5O Cent wears glasses and a duck egg blue jumper. Sly takes one look at him and decides he will do the job. I would too, 50 Cent in spectacles and knitwear?! Who wants to live in a world as f**ked up as that?

Rapid cuts, staccato music and a Taser to Sly’s gut, move us from the street, to a truck, to a prison where all inmates are contained within Perspex cubes, but this is no game and there is not a Schofield in sight.

A hood is pulled off Stallone’s head and in walks the son of God (Jim Caviezel) who introduces himself as, “Warden Hobbs.” Stallone growls, “Hobbs!” as if he has surname Tourette’s.

The trailer then moves rapidly, as it should do, no one in their right mind cares about the back story, we are all waiting for Arnie to appear – though it turns out Stallone’s contact on the inside doesn’t exist and he is stuck in Jesus’ prison with no means of escape.

“Barrrck aarway.” The unmistakable pronunciation of the Austrian Oak breaks up a fight between Sylvester and a bunch of men who couldn’t be more of a Mexican stereotype unless they were wearing sombreros, riding around on donkeys whilst eating fajitas. Arnie is a proper criminal, we know this as he has a grey goatee and slicked back hair – either that or he is a flasher.

The trailer then dips into ‘main plot middle third’ territory, a common trait of the preview genre. During this section the audience is drip fed information about the film’s dominant narrative, the music is sporadic and ominous, and the expositional voice-overs come thick and fast, book ended by, in this case, a loud blast of evil synth. This being a trailer for an action film, however, all the voice clips just reiterate what has already been said, as everyone knows action film fans are really f**king stupid.

Sly tells Arnie who he is. Jesus tells Sly that people paid for him to be here. Sly tells Arnie that he was a set up. A blonde woman asks a geek where Sly is – we know he is a geek as he owns a computer and a telescope, total loser. 50 Cent pops up, still wearing glasses, and tells the blonde woman he doesn’t know where Sly is. Arnie tells Sly he can die in prison or get out. Sly tells Arnie he is going to get out. After this slurry of information reiteration even the genres most mentally deficient fans should manage to grasp the ‘intricacies’ of the story, but just in case here comes the stereotypical Mexican to say, “They are planning a break out.”

Excellent. Plot sorted, get ready for some punching.

“I need a diversion,” Sly growls. Arnie looks serious. Cut to the general prison population. Sly punches Arnie in the face. Everyone cheers. Arnie laughs it off, “You hit like a vegetarian.” This is an insult as vegetarians are generally known to be weak and emotional individuals that are allergic to punching. Sly is understandably angered by this comment so hits Arnie again. Cue ‘Punchfest 2013’. Arnie punches a guard. Explosions punch a door off its hinges. Sly hits a guard across a room. Everyone hits everyone else. Yeah, hooray for action! And what is the only thing better than people hitting each other? That is right, people firing guns out of helicopters!

Arnie fires a gun from a helicopter. Sly fires a gun. The guards aim their guns in a helicopters general direction. Arnie fires a gun from in front of a helicopter. Sly hangs from a helicopter and aims a pistol at the camera – this is undoubtedly the end shot and the way Jesus will die. No cross and nails for him, nope, he will be shot by a 67 year old Rambo from underneath a helicopter – put that in your bible and smoke it.

The trailer ends with the obligatory crash of gun fire and explosions.

Verdict: The fact that the most farcical thing in the trailer is 50 cents attire and Arnie’s child catcher facial hair, bodes well for the film itself. Arnie and Stallone make up in charisma what they lack in acting chops, and if the action grows organically from the plot rather than being shoe horned in for no good reason, like in both Expendables films, there should be enough here to keep the fans happy.

To pretend you have seen the full film, say: “That film made me want to punch my own mother in the face!”

Don’t say: “I thought the love scenes were very sensitively handled.”


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