Truth be told many people were not clamouring for a sequel to the 2013 prison break actioner Escape Plan, which is not the most memorable entry in its genre but was a tough throwback to the ‘80s and ‘90s and famed as the first full feature teaming (save for their brief scenes in The Expendables franchise) of action icons Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film was effective, boasted some great action, performances and a generous cast, so hopefully a sequel could at least offer some more fun right? Oh so wrong!
Schwarzenegger wisely sidesteps a sequel which bares a few worrying signs that all is not well, including the fact it was shot and then shelved, only attaining a home video release in the States and that a third film is already filmed and on the way! Escape Plan 2 is a sequel that tries and fails to go bigger and forgets to go better. Sharing more in common with sci-fi than anything else, this incomprehensibly plotted film is a real mess, which is an unsatisfying mish-mash of other films, from John Wick and Blade Runner to Tron: Legacy and even elements of Mad Max Fury Road. The effects recall London Has Fallen, with some dodgy looking CGI and the score tries to rip Hans Zimmer and Daft Punk, as the film stumbles around looking for an identity.
One scene leads to another with little in way of smooth natural flow and despite there being perhaps something here that would make a fun film (think an earth bound Lockout) it just does not work as a sequel to the last film and is pretty funless on its own merits. Sub-plots are forgotten and links are crowbarred into a story that comes complete with one of the most obvious film twists in recent memory, which sets up a very bland villain.
No amount of robot units or shifting prison schematics can instil any enthusiasm into proceedings and worse still the film wastes a cast that is genuinely up for it. Stallone is a welcome presence as Ray Breslin (the only returning actor other than Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) and even delivers a bone cracking fight but the movie fails to give him anything strong to work with and frankly wastes him, while the likes of Dave Bautista are under-used and Huang Xiaoming’s genuine efforts are drowned out by the movie’s head scratching direction.
Escape Plan knew what it was but Escape Plan 2 (also known as Escape Plan 2: Hades) is the exact opposite and it really makes you appreciate the fun first film a thousand times more.