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Ray Breslin manages an elite team of security specialists trained in the art of breaking people out of the world's most impenetrable prisons. When his most trusted operative, Shu Ren, is kidnapped and disappears inside the most elaborate prison ever built, entirely computerized and constantly changing shape, Ray must track him down with the help of some of his former friends.Written by
The Icelandic hacker group Legion's leader, Count Zero, is named after the title character of William Gibson's 1986 work of the same name. See more »
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Ya know, one of my men is missing and I think he's in a black cell prison called Hades... ring a bell?
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SPOILER: I really enjoyed Escape Plan. It was fun and although a little silly it was well put together well directed. Now I was surprised to see Stallone doing back to back sequels in Escape Plan 2 + 3, but if 2 is anything to go by then Stallone has slipped horribly into Straight-to-Video Hell! Which is quite apt as that's what Hades means (it was the Greek name for the underworld).
So why is it so bad? - Well, firstly we start the film with characters (and actors) we've never seen before: A team on some kind of rescue mission from terrorists. Wait, what?! We don't see Stallone until 10 mins into the film. It's his team. He's the boss of a security firm in Atlanta now. But he's not the main character. Oh.
The main character is Chinese actor Xiaoming Huang. No, I've never heard of him before either. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt this actor is a big star in China. His martial arts are really good, and he has a certain presence about him. But his character here is so underwritten that you never engage with him as a character. So instead of being invested in him, you become a mere spectator of what happens to him. I'm sure Chinese money & market has a major part in his casting, but this isn't how to do it. Also featured is Cheng Tang, who (I'm sorry), is almost unintelligible in around half his scenes. But I think it's partly the director's fault. We frequently can't see him speaking as the camera is doing something strange. So you get a difficult to understand accent from a disembodied voice.
So, Huang finds himself inside a new mega high-tech prison, where to achieve privileges you have to to win fights in a gladiatorial fight - for no apparent reason. Oh. This is such an old B-Movie cliché that I can't believe they went there, but I suppose they wanted to make use of Huang's martial arts and this is how they do it. It's a bit desperate though. Meanwhile, on the outside Stallone recruits Bautista to help find Huang and another team member who's gone missing. At this point you think this might pick up, but you'd be wrong.
The problem is that none of this is joined up well. You frequently are barely comprehending what is supposed to be going on. There's no real focus to the film as we cut back and forth between outside and inside the prison - which nobody knows the location of. Dialogue is frequently missed or mumbled, especially by 50 Cent, who is so bad I think they could have employed a cardboard cut-out with a robot voice and it would have been a) more intelligible and b) a better performance. Seriously, why do people keep employing him? Bautista is underused, and is just a man mountain who terms up and does things. There's no character. He's just a thing that does stuff.
Stallone, obviously is trying to spin-off successful films in which he was the action hero. Now older, he can't do that stuff anymore, however, when he does a little bit of action you can't help but be impressed. Here there's a good action scene in which he and Bautista waste numerous assassins, but I really don't know what that scene was about. It just seemed to be stuffed in there for a bit of action. Another scene is a bit silly really, where he faces a man at least 30 years younger than him in fisticuffs. Dude! You're in your 70's! Stop it! It's getting embarrassing now.
The special effects in the film are grossly overdone but so low grade that you wonder how they managed to use 90's technology and make them look 80's, and the prison never feels like anything but a rather bad film set. The whole film looks rather B-Movie cheap.
Although the script doesn't work for all the reasons I've given above, I reserve special mention for the director, Stephen C Miller, who seems to think that erratic and inappropriate camera movements is what directing means. This film could have been watchable if Miller was not at the helm. He's dire! It's like an 8-year-old was given a camera kit and tracks. This isn't style, it's mess. Nothing about his direction works. Nothing. No thing. In all seriousness, Miller has killed what might have been just a bad film and made it a very bad film indeed. Producers! Stop employing him! He has no idea what he's doing! Nothing he does works!
Please, Stallone, you are better than this. You can write really good characters and you are actually a good actor. Do some thrillers. Act your age, dude. As for Escape Plan 3: Devil's Station, at least it won't have Miller directing. John Herzfeld at least knows how to use a camera.
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