I know a rip-off when I see one. I've met my fair share of strippers.
Escape Plan 1
The 2013 vehicle starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger was a fun time, I thoroughly enjoyed the first Escape Plan. Was it a work of genius? No, not really. But it was an enjoyable little action flick with energized performances from Schwarzenegger and Jim Caveizel, well done fight choreography, cool production design, and a simple yet interesting premise. Granted, it has been approximately five or six years since I last viewed the film. However, I still remember it fondly to this day.
Escape Plan 2: Hades
I hadn’t the faintest idea that there was going to ever be a sequel to Escape Plan, especially one that was so quickly and randomly dropped in the middle of 2018. When I discovered that was released directly to video last year, severely confounded by the whole debacle, I was still interested in checking the flick out since I am personally a big Stallone fan. Although, in the back of my mind I was admittedly concerned that it was going to be an extremely cheap production, Stallone’s career has received a major rejuvenation in recent years so I was cautiously optimistic. My concerns were correct, the production was so cheap that it barely retained scenes with its supposed star, Sylvester Stallone himself. Stallone’s role was an extended cameo at best, in a movie that was “starring” him. Instead, mostly focusing on two other characters that I had never seen before and held about as much charisma as stale bread. While occasionally reprising Stallone and his gang in brief scenes that pertained little to nothing in terms of the plot. Even with the new inclusion of Dave Bautista, which also added up to very little, the film was a terrible example of a strictly cheap cash-in product to capitalize on Stallone’s name. The production value was less than that of a ham sandwich, the performances were stereotypical straight-to-video quality, the action was boring, the plot was overly convoluted, it was a surprisingly bad time to say the least.
The Trailer Full of Lies
Expectations of Escape Plan 3
When I did some research on the first sequel of Escape Plan, I discovered that a third entry was already greenlit and in the works. Immediately, I had no hope for Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station (what it was titled at the time). I knew that it would be more or less what Escape Plan 2: Hades ended up as, a cheap product that barely features its main protagonist. Much to my very own surprise, Escape Plan 3: The Extractors (as it is now called) is actually one terrific… I can’t even finish that leadup to a joke. It’s bad, it’s still bad. Is it better than Escape Plan 2? Yeah, I guess. In the sense that instead of Stallone being a cameo in his own film, he’s now barely a supporting character in his own movie. It’s still a film that strongly advertises that Sylvester Stallone is the lead and then sidelines him for a number of generic and significantly cheaper actors to afford while filming Sly’s scenes in the matter of a few days.
I’m probably not exaggerating about Stallone only having a few days of shooting time since he went on record stating that the entire production of Escape Plan 3 took a matter of 17 days to complete. Trust me when I say that it shows. Does it appear as aesthetically cheap as the previous installment? Not quite, but it’s definitely a direct-to-video production. I won’t go so far as to say that this was terrible, it at least seemed as though there was somewhat of an effort to learn from the mistakes of the last sequel. More scenes that actually contained Stallone, better action, and a less of a mess story line. On the other hand; Stallone has very little to work with here and mostly seems to be sleepwalking through his performance with how bored he is, the action mostly is forgettable with the exception of one fight sequence in the third act with Stallone, and the plot was still not particularly cohesive. So, in short, we’ve upgraded from eating garbage to eating expired fruit. Joy.
The Entirety of This Trailer is the Climax
After literally the nine production company logos that start the film off, we follow the daughter (Melise) of a Hong Kong tech mogul who is captured by a small group of mercenaries and held captive in a Latvian prison. The leader (Devon Sawa) of this mercenary group leaves the woman’s bodyguard (Harry Shum Jr.) a flash drive with the name ‘Ray Breslin’ on it for him to search for Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) to deliver a message. During all of this, Breslin has come across a highly capable… uhh… fighter? I guess. A fighter dude (Jin Zhang) that is looking for Breslin for… reasons. He joins in on the plan to extract the Hong Kong tech mogul’s daughter from this deranged psycho that blames Breslin for the death of his father. Then Breslin’s girlfriend (Jaime King) is also kidnapped by the mercenaries and it’s up to Breslin and the gang, mostly the two newcomers, to step in and save the day.
That Was Difficult
Seriously, that took a bit of effort to summarize the film’s plot there. I don’t really have anything more to add on that, I just wanted to point out that my job critiquing film can sometimes provide a killer headache.
Has Anyone Heard of Godfrey Ho?
Godfrey Ho was a prominent exploitation filmmaker during the 1970s all the way into the early 2000s; the director had a very distinct style of stitching together two completely separate productions and stuffing them into ‘appearing’ as one movie. Usually containing two completely different plot lines with no connections being made between the them, other than the few extra scenes hurriedly filmed with stand-ins or conversations with other characters offscreen. I won’t say that this is exactly the same by any means since I’m pretty sure this was mostly produced as one intended picture, but there are still a number of elements that are reminiscent from that of Godfrey Ho. The two plots that really have nothing to do with one another and are jammed together in lazily written fashion, the conversations that take place between two characters that are clearly not actually standing in the same room with one another as they are photographed in awkward ways without any sort of establishing shots, and the combination of foreign and domestic actors coming ‘together’ to fight against their enemies also sticks out to me. I will say that Escape Plan 2 held more correlations in regards to Godfrey Ho’s style, but this still also retains some of it as well. The problem here is that both of these Escape Plan sequels achieve none of the charm from that of a Godfrey Ho production, which makes them a bit of a chore to sit through.
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Stallone has always been an actor that I have held his work dear to my heart; from his big name franchises such as Rocky and Rambo, to his one hit wonders like Cop Land, Tango & Cash, Cliffhanger, Cobra, Nighthawks, Assassins, Demolition Man, and even Over the Top. I don’t care what anyone says, I love Over the Top, bite me! The man has a vast array of talents from being a total badass action hero, a terrifically sympathetic dramatic figure, a fantastically entertaining writer/director, and is an all around cool human being. Is everything Stallone touches a masterpiece? No, of course not. Anyone heard of Staying Alive, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, or Oscar? Those certainly weren’t winners, aside from the occasional duds though, Sly has a great track record in my opinion and he is a guy that I still love seeing what he comes out with next. Escape Plan 2 and 3 are total wastes of this man’s acting skills. There are a couple of scenes where Stallone was allowed to stretch his acting chops in the third act of Escape Plan 3, but that doesn’t nearly warrant dragging him into these lackluster dead zones of action pictures. Personally, I hope that this is the last of the Escape Plan series so that Stallone can be given the respect and dignity that he deserves in film. Also, I can’t wait for Rambo: Last Blood. Hell yes!
Bautista is clearly a dude with a big heart from what I’ve noticed in interviews and his social media accounts, this guy just loves acting and I can tell that he enjoys every minute of being able to display his talents onscreen. He has an infectious smile and very likable attitude, I definitely understand as to how and why he is in both of these sequels. Sadly, he is also a wasted talent in these two features. Within the last six years or so, I have seen this actor grow to an unbelievable degree with what he is capable of inside his performances. Dave Bautista can make me laugh uncontrollably in the Guardians of the Galaxy installments, charm and fill me with nostalgia in movies like Final Score, he even made me tear up a bit with his astonishing performance in Bushwick. Not to mention his terrific contributions in Hotel Artemis, Blade Runner 2049, and Riddick; giving us a pretty solid track record thus far. He has proven himself a worthy actor that deserves far better than what these direct-to-video Escape Plan sequels have to offer. Two movies that maybe contain all of twenty minutes worth of screen time. That’s combining both films by the way, not twenty minutes each, more like ten. There is no real character that Bautista is able to work with here, he’s simply a guy that shows up to get the characters from plot point A to plot point B and that is it. Dave Bautista shouldn’t be given the shaft like this and I hope that he is given that chance to show everyone what he can truly do. And I can’t wait for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. I’m shameless, I know.
The biggest problem that both of these sequels run into are the fact that it seems no one, whether in front of or behind the camera, gives a sh*t. Apologies for putting it so bluntly, but it’s true. There is nothing in the writing, directing, acting, producing, lighting, staging, set design, costume design, special effects that reflects the attitude that anyone cared. This is standard, generic, forgettable, lazy, cheap, barely action oriented shlock that a group of people literally put together in a couple of weeks and then went along to other more important matters; like deciding what type of cheese they wanted to include on their turkey sandwich. There is no investment made into the writing or development of the characters. The story is barely coherent when I suspend all disbelief, which the antagonist’s motivations are still shotty at best. Not to mention the actor portraying the villain gives a performance I could find out of any Saturday morning cartoon back in the 1990s. It’s obvious how quickly they filmed every scene as the majority of the picture seems to take place in dark rooms that could take place practically anywhere. People just appear from one location to the next with no explanation as to how or why. Plus with how little Stallone’s character really matters to the plot amounts to barely anything and he could have easily been cut out of his own movie.
There is no excitement, no element of adventure, no visually pleasing eye candy in terms of the action, nothing to make me care about what’s going on or even maintain any reason to follow the broken plot threads. I sat through the entirety of Escape Plan 3’s 76 minute runtime completely disinterested in everything that was happening in front of me. Any time Stallone showed up it felt as though someone accidentally pressed the fast-forward button on the remote as he scenes were sped through so they could afford him to be in more of the film. Always in secluded locations that could be basically anywhere the filmmakers wanted. For the most part, we follow that of the two characters played by Jin Zhang and Harry Shum Jr. who are mainly boring and underdeveloped stock action leads. One of which is disposed of radically and there is not a shred of emotion shown about it, he’s simply out of the movie faster than he arrived. Same goes for another key character from these two sequels and it practically means nothing in the grand scheme of things. I won’t say exactly who these two are in case… I don’t know… someone out there is oddly addiment about the spoilers of the Escape Plan saga. Whatever, it’s still crap.
The Ending Fight
There, the only reason to ever even check this movie out from curiosity's sake. I spoiled the ending now. Don't waste your time.
This was a waste of everyone’s time, especially my own. I don’t hate the movie and it won’t make it on my ‘Worst of the Year’ movie list since I’ve already seen much worse, this still was not worth sitting through though. Not even for background noise would I recommend Escape Plan: The Extractors. Some of the action is fine and there’s maybe about five minutes worth of real acting talent being displayed, other than that it was an empty shell of an action flick. It may be direct-to-video, but there are so many other options that one could be wisely spending their time viewing outside of Escape Plan 2 or 3. Watch any of the other awesome entries in Stallone’s or Bautista’s filmography, not this. Avoid if possible, not like anyone will ever force someone to watch these. That would be weird.
What's Your Favorite Escape Plan?
That’s All Folks…
Escape Plan: The Extractors… It was a thing that happened. What did you think though? Did you like or dislike the film? Agree or disagree with my assessment? Wonder if paying Sylvester Stallone to punch my head off would be a wise investment? Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoyed my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a great escape of a day! Oh that’s another movie you could watch over this, The Great Escape. Great movie, total classic. Check it out.
Questions & Answers
Question: Where was Escape Plan 3 filmed?
Answer: Pretty much any abandoned warehouse or rundown building that the producers could manage to get their hands on for cheap... or for free. Lol seriously though, I'm not entirely sure where filming took place for sure on this production. From what I've gathered there were scenes shot at Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. I'm sorry to say, that's all I can find on the matter. I hope my answer was sufficient enough!
© 2019 John Plocar
Michael115 on July 08, 2019:
Loved your review man! I am almost curious to check one of these out to see if they are actually that bad. Call me crazy but shlocky movies can tickle my funny bone if I am in the right mood.