Escape Plan 2 Hades movie review: Sylvester Stallone should be jailed for this
Escape Plan 2 Hades movie review: Academy Award nominee and star of Kambakkht Ishq, Sylvester Stallone stars in one of the worst movies of the year.
Escape Plan 2: Hades
Director - Steven C Miller
Cast - Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, Xiaoming Huang, 50 Cent, Titus Welliver
Rating - 1/5
The biggest indicator (or warning) as to what sort of movie Escape Plan 2: Hades is can be found in its tagline. “He’s back,” yell the bold, white letters above the title, which would have been lazy even if the movie they were advertising was Terminator 16, and not a sequel to a forgotten Sylvester Stallone film.
It also implies that a, someone wanted him back and this information is supposed to be exciting, b, what he did earlier was so memorable that the mere mention of his return is enough reason for you to purchase a movie ticket, and most importantly, c, that anyone even noticed that he was gone.
Escape Plan 2 arrives five whole years after the first film, and charitably speaking, revealed its existence basically a couple of weeks ago.
Prepare yourselves. The entire movie looks blue.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you remember the first film, which, coincidentally, also starred Arnold Schwarzenegger (that could explain the tagline) and a bafflingly solid cast (Amy Ryan was in it! Jim Caviezel. Sam Neill). It doesn’t even matter if this is the first time you’re hearing about it. But, to continue this train of thought, neither does it matter if you are asleep (or dead) while you watch this one.
Escape Plan 2 is the sort of film that until a few years ago used to be restricted to home video – certainly, it’s directed by the man who is single-handedly responsible for Bruce Willis’ recent Direct-to-DVD output. It exists more because of contracts and deals than any artistic (or fan) demands.
Sylvester Stallone plays security specialist Ray Breslin, who after the events of the first film, is once again embroiled in a plot that involves impenetrable and inescapable prisons. But instead of breaking out of one of those like the last time, this film requires him to break in – like Inception, you see.
When a member of his team is double-crossed and incarcerated in Hades, the most elaborate prison ever built, Ray rounds up a bunch of his old cronies to help break him out. Prisoners in Hades are also forced to take part in weird (because robots are involved) gladiatorial bouts, which gives the movie an excuse to chuck an action scene at you, say, every five minutes. And that’s about it, as far as the plot goes, but boy does Escape Plan 2 take the most roundabout way of getting to the point.
You’d think Dave Bautista would make better use of the exposure Guardians of the Galaxy, Spectre and Blade Runner 2049 gave him.
For example, one dude with a Virat Kohli beard is introduced as a Chechen terrorist in the opening scene, only for him to reveal that he’s been undercover all along. Unsurprisingly, he concludes his grand journey in the film as the supervillain of the piece. Now, regardless of this dramatic character arc, each of these reveals can be seen coming a mile away. So the question arises: Why not announce him as the villain in the first place?
But that would be asking too much of this script, which gives the impression that it was written in three, Red Bull-fuelled hours, at gunpoint, possibly with Stallone’s lawyers hovering in the room. For some unfortunate reason, a lot of the lines seem to have been modelled around Donald Trump’s very particular speech patterns – so when a character says phrases like ‘10 million bucks’ he follows it up with ‘lotta money’, as if to hammer home the indisputable fact that $10 million is indeed a lot of money.
Watching films like Escape Plan 2 (Hades!) – besides the knockout entertainment - has an element of investigative journalism. You stay for the end credits in movies like this, you pay extra attention at the names of all the production companies – there are at least half-a-dozen listed here – and you notice characters’ ethnicities. Invariably, your investigation will validate your suspicions: Nearly half the speaking cast is made up of Chinese actors, and one of the six or so production companies is also Chinese.
When this movie makes all the money in China, the joke’s going to be on us.
So in that regard - it’s a China produced film, starring an ensemble Chinese cast that reduces Stallone to a supporting character in his own movie - watching Escape Plan 2 is like watching a foreign film, except you can’t boast about it to your friends. To call it a cash-grab, however, would be to insinuate that making money off this thing was ever a possibility.
There’s a part of Hollywood that’s just so tragically cynical that it makes you question if this is the norm or the exception. Everything – including emojis, for God’s sake – is fair game when franchises are being plotted. Instead of putting in exactly the same amount of effort and creating an original film (which isn’t a lot of effort, for the record), the men and women behind Escape Plan 2 were so risk-averse that they thought there’s a bigger audience for new Escape Plan movies. Sadder still is the tease for the future with which this film ends, giving the marketing team an excuse to break out another distressingly poor tagline – what’s it going to be this time? ‘He’s back again’?
Watch the Escape Plan 2: Hades trailer here