Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lionsgate's ESCAPE PLAN (2013) Blu-ray: One of 2013's Most Underrated Films Gets A Great Release

Escape Plan (2013)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

2013 saw the return of several 80s action film icons to the big screen, with mixed critical and box office results. After the lackluster receipts from Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the Big Screen in THE LAST STAND, many declared the actor to be washed up. The same was also said about Sylvester Stallone when his BULLET IN THE HEAD rolled over and played dead. As such, the reaction from many to the two finally pairing up on-screen for ESCAPE PLAN seemed to be one of "Been there, done that," something that showed after it failed to really hit at the box office. However, I think that if more people had actually seen the film, they wouldn't be so critical of it, as it's actually a very fun action movie with some clever twists.

The official rundown of the film from Lionsgate reads as follows:
One of the world's foremost authorities on structural security agrees to take on one last job: breaking out of an ultra-secret, high-tech facility called "The Tomb." Deceived and wrongfully imprisoned, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) must recruit fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to help devise a daring, nearly impossible plan to escape from the most protected and fortified prison ever built.
It's a pretty simple setup, but there's a lot more to ESCAPE PLAN than just its plot. Ultimately, what makes it work so well is not only its pairing of two 1980s film icons, but the clever way that the action unfolds. There are several twists and turns, and with both stars playing anti-heroes of sorts, the audience can never really be sure what to expect.

Action-wise, ESCAPE PLAN delivers in spades. We get the wonderful showdown between Stallone and Schwarzenegger that we've wanted for as long as I can remember, but we also get a myriad of large set-pieces that feature explosions, brawling, helicopter stunts, and just about everything else that you can want from an action movie. There's never a dull moment in the film, and things move along at a nice clip. Two hours never felt so short.

Performance-wise, there are also no real complaints. Stallone and Schwarzenegger are great, and they play off of one another in a really fun way. In fact, this is easily the best performance from Schwarzenegger in many, many years. We also get good supporting turns from Jim Cavielzel as the evil prison warden, Amy Ryan as one of Stallone's associates, and Vinny Jones as a badass prison guard. Even 50 Cent - who shows up under his actual name of Curtis Jackson - does a fine job as a techno-geek who assists Stallone during his break-out attempts. Again, it's an action film, so big performances aren't necessary for it to work, but it's a nice addition to a film that already has a lot going for it.

At the end of the day, you can nitpick these films, or you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, it seems that many people passed ESCAPE PLAN up on its initial release. However, if you are a fan of action cinema, you owe it to yourself to give the film a watch, as there are a lot of things to like about it. I can only hope that ESCAPE PLAN finds a larger audience, now that it's available on home video, as it truly is one of the best action films of 2013, and it deserves to be seen.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Lionsgate brings ESCAPE PLAN home in a nice Blu-ray/DVD/Digital package that features a nice offering of special features.

Video Quality

On the video front, ESCAPE PLAN looks every bit as good as it did in the theater. The colors are vibrant, the detail is fine, and there are no noticeable instances of any of the negative aspects of digital presentation. This isn't a huge surprise, as films that are shot for digital presentation shouldn't need much tinkering, but with a film that has so much going for it visually, it's nice to know that the transfer is solid.

Audio Quality

ESCAPE PLAN features a simply kickass 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Being that it's an action movie, it's not surprising that the surrounds and the subwoofer get quite a workout. For films like this, lossless audio is a huge plus, and ESCAPE PLAN delivers on all audio fronts.

Extra Features

Considering that the film wasn't a huge hit at the cinema, it's a pleasant surprise that the Blu-ray release has a wealth of special features included.

  • Feature Commentary with Director Mikael Håfström and Co-Writer Miles Chapman: I wasn't expecting to enjoy this audio commentary as much as I did. Håfström and Chapman have a nice rapport, and there's never a dull moment as they discuss the film's conception, themes, and production. It's really a fun listen, and something that fans of film should be sure to check out.
  • Executing The Plan - The Making Of ESCAPE PLAN (22 min): A really nice Making-Of documentary that features interviews with the key cast and crew of the film. There's a lot of good information here, and it seems like everyone had a great time making the movie; something that shows in the final product.
  • Maximum Security - The Real Life Tomb (22 min): A great featurette on the history of maximum security prisons. As someone who minored in Criminal Justice in college, I couldn't help but find this fascinating. Interviews with experts and prison architects highlight the discussion, and there is a lot of information presented here. The level of presentation is easily on par with that of the specials on the History Channel. Great stuff.
  • Clash Of The Titans (16 min): A featurette in which Schwarzenegger and Stallone discuss their long-awaited team-up as co-headliners. Not a ton of depth, but its a fun watch; especially for viewers who grew up watching the action icons in their various films.
  • Deleted Scenes (8 min): Several deleted scenes from the film. While none of them really reveal much, and the film works fine without them, it's interesting to see what was excised from the film. Most are complete with score, though the visual effects are not all complete.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, Lionsgate's ESCAPE PLAN Blu-ray has a lot to offer fans of both the film and the action genre. The video and audio presentation are top-notch, and there's at least an hour of stand-alone bonus features; most of which are above-average and engrossing on some level. For me, the choice is a no-brainer, and I heartily recommend the disc to action enthusiasts.

Highly Recommended!

Blu-ray Score


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