Escape Plan (2013)

ESCAPE PLAN

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) and his business partner Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio) run a company which tests prisons all across America. Ray is put into various prisons and exposes their weaknesses and escapes, thus helping future prisons to be designed so that they are escape proof. Ray is asked by the CIA to test out a new super max prison. The prison is designed to hold the most dangerous terrorists still waiting to be interrogated by the government.

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Ray agrees to take the job,and within a day is bound and gagged to be transported to the new prison. There Ray meets the sadistic Warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), who duly informs Ray that he will not be leaving the prison. Ray is told that someone has paid good money to ensure he never sees the light of day again. Whilst in prison, Ray meets a man called Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who tells Ray that Hobbes has been keeping him in prison as Rottmayer has information on the whereabouts of someone who could rock the financial world.

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Together Ray and Rottmayer hatch a plan to escape the prison. Seeking the help of other prisoners and the prison doctor, Dr. Kyrie (Sam Neill), they come up with a way to escape and bring the prison down. There are bit parts for Vinnie Jones who plays a sadistic prison guard, and also Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson who plays a computer tech, looking to help find out where Ray has been taken. The story is not nearly as ingenious as it thinks it is. It has some clever moments, like when Ray escapes the prison at the start of the movie, but for the most part it feels very tame. Arnie is still finding his feet after being out of the acting game for so long, and looks uncomfortable in some scenes. Stallone is also a bit wooden, but it’s Stallone so he gets a pass. Jim Caviezel is wonderfully as the hammy almost camp Warden Hobbes. He delivers his lines with understated menace and seems to be having a blast.

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Folks like 50 Cent and Vincent D’Onofrio feel wasted in the small roles they have, and don’t really have much to do. There is also the obligatory scene in which Arnie holds a massive machine gun, which happens so often it feels like it’s a clause in his contract. The action is so-so, but the setting means there’s not as much as you’d expect when two action titans meet. Overall however it is worth a watch, and is perfect beer and pizza fodder.

3/5

JM

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Runaway Train (1985)

Runaway-Train

I really enjoyed this movie. I remember seeing it on TV many years ago, but had forgotten some of it due to the fact I only ever saw it once. The story concerns a brutal convict called Oscar ‘Manny’ Manheim (played by the brilliant Jon Voight), who has been welded shut in his cell for 3 straight years, mainly down to the fact he has made two escape attempts from the maximum security Stonehaven Prison in Alaska. Manny is pushed by the warden to make another attempt at escape which he does, taking dim witted prize fighter Buck McGeehy (played by Eric Roberts). Together they creep through the sewers, down a stream and hop aboard a train to make good their escape. But when the train driver dies of a heart attack, Manny & Buck find themselves hurtling down the track fighting for their lives.

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The film moves along at such a breakneck pace. Just watching the actors walk along the side of this high speed train makes my palms sweat. Everyone is on top form, even Rebecca DeMornay who plays an engineer that has been stranded on the train. Eric Roberts adds humour to his role, practically jumping around the screen full of energy. Jon Voight adds menace, but also heart in his role as Manny. I have always liked him as an actor and he doesn’t fail to disappoint. If you have never seen this movie then you owe to yourself to get a copy, as it really is something special and a constant reminder of why practical effects trump CGI every time.

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Arrow Films have put together a magnificent transfer. The film itself is bleak and saturated of colour, but that was a concious decision by the director. Arrow have cleaned this film up to such a high standard that you can practically feel the snow flying off the train. The extras are pretty special too. There is an interview with director Andrei Konchalovsky, Jon Voight shares his thoughts on the role he played, as does Eric Roberts. There is a trailer with commentary by Rod Lurie and a wonderful booklet with writing on the movie by Michael Brooke and an interview with production designer Stephen Marsh conducted by the always brilliant Callum Waddell. Rounding the extras off are the original Life Magazine article that inspired the film and various production images.

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This copy of Runaway Train was graciously provided by the wonderful folks over at www.facebook.com/ArrowVid. You can order your copy from www.arrowfilms.co.uk

5/5

JM

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