Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom
Written By: Miles Chapman & Arnell Jesko
Story By: Miles Chapman
Cinematography By: Brendan Galvin
Editor: Elliot Greenberg
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Amy Ryan, Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Farin Tahar, Sam Neill, Graham Beckel, Matt Gerald
Ray Breslin is the world’s foremost authority on structural security. After analyzing every high security prison and learning a vast array of survival skills so he can design escape-proof prisons, his skills are put to the test. He’s framed and incarcerated in a master prison he designed himself. He needs to escape and find the person who put him behind bars.
I wasn’t expecting too much and luckily that is what you get. A good time waster and pretty disposable, but actually pretty decent as far as subject matter goes. Even if it is predictable to a T. Yet at the end wants to act like any surprise is a true shattering revelation.
The script feels like it was held over from the 80’s. That was sitting in a desk drawer as one of the possible ultimate team up movies of great action stars. It plays like an 80’s film. Also which fits into the wheel house of both stars as their more modern films feel like 80’s retreads of the films they used to star in.
It is exactly the film you would figure more for STALLONE as it reminds fans of one of his better films LOCK-UP. Though not as harsh and if possible even more ridiculous.
Arnold Schwartznenegger as a co-star doesn’t really strut himself in majority until the final act. We get glimpses here and there. Though at least he looks like he is having more fun then any of the other cast members. That might be why he gets more of an iconic introduction over STALLONE. As his film has a surprisingly impressive supporting cast in name not that much is asked of them. As they seem here more for a quick buck or to share scenes with these aging action icons.
The idea of a movie co-starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwartzenegger had been discussed between the two men for many years, as far back as the mid-1980s. Different scripts had been pitched or written, but Schwarzenegger said his and Stallone’s schedules were not able to match up. Schwarzenegger’s exit as governor and his cameo appearances in Stallone’s THE EXPENDABLES prompted the two of them to revisit the idea of working together in both this movie and THE EXPENDABLES 2.
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson seems more a natural for this type of film. As it seems like the type he would have starred in. If the movie had a lower budget and was headed more for digital downloading. Though with the semi big name cast. It is surprising he is in here amongst them. Seems more like stunt casting to get crossover appeal. As his character seems more here to enforce a stereotype of an constantly cursing ex-con, but then go against stereotype by also being a computer technical genius. Though rest easy as he isn’t in the film too much.
The film though modern feels slightly futuristic almost lie the film FORTRESS, but less technical. As our heroes are old school so they emphasize. Knowledge, skills and tricks of the trade more than anything.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s southern accent and line readings are strange making it seem like a more comedic role. Like he is mad he missed play boos hog or roscoe in the DUKES OF HAZARD movie.
Sam Neill is cast in this he always seems to pop up in films. Rather than be a flashy co-star he just settles and hardly seems here. More like a day player who has been given a promotion. Here other than being part of the requisite plot, you barely notice him. Not does his character make that much of an impression.
Jim Caviezel as the villain is unsmiling, prudish and by the book evil warden. He could have been a bit more interesting character if he had believed all the characters were guilty even against evidence they weren’t. Because he believes in vengeance for criminals and he can’t be wrong as all of his faith is in himself. Instead he is mean, calculating and just another co-conspiriter who enjoys torture.
When Javed says “God is Great” Jim Caviezel character (Hobbes) replies with “Eh, Whatever”. This is a reference to Caviezel’s role as “Jesus Christ” in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
The film ultimately feels bare. It lacks pizzaz and goes more for an action-thriller vibe instead of just action that it lends itself to more naturally. Trying to offer action through jump cuts of mundane scenes. It also ends up becoming more of a buddy film.
Warden Hobbes working on butterflies is a reference to the film PAPILLON in which a convict repeatedly tries to escape Devil’s Island. Papillon is French for butterfly.
To improve the film some hints might have been to Break up the scenes, thicken the plot and give us a chance to focus on other characters, rather than the main stars and this film could have been more entertaining. Instead some scenes give off more than enough unintentional humor.
I will always have a soft spot for both of these action icons, maybe Schwartzenegger more than STALLONE as I have enjoyed his films more in the long run.
Bruce Willis was once attached to star in this film with Antoine Fuqua directing.
While this isn’t the dream project many had in their heads for when these Titans would team up or share the screen. As It is pretty small scale, but fits the elements of their typical genre films. There are very few others who could make this film work and feel somewhat credible.
THE EXPENDABLES has more of the scope for. Their team-up as well as the budget. Here it is more of an action thriller and small scale that just goes bananas in the third act. To remind the audience of the actors former glory and expertise.