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Escape Plan: Sylvester & Arnie Join Forces
Following the roaring success of The Expendables and its unnecessary sequel, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up for their first ever one-on-one, on-screen matchup in Escape Plan. Directed by Swedish filmmaker, Mikael Hafstrom – the man behind 2007 horror-thriller 1408 and 2005's Derailed – the film, unfortunately, falls short of both its promise and potential.
Ray Breslin (Stallone) is a highly skilful escape artist who specialises in testing the reliability of security systems used in maximum security prisons. As the co-owner of Breslin-Clark, with partner Lester Clark (D'Onofrio), Ray's job entails a few rather unconventional tasks; after gaining access to prisons, he escapes to highlight the security's faults.
His work soon draws attention from the CIA, who are keen to have the expert test a security system in their latest high-tech slammer. The multi-million dollar deal, however, doesn't sit well with Ray's devoted colleagues, Hush (50 Cent) and Abigail (Ryan), who find the whole thing a little suspicious. Despite his partners' hesitations, Ray agrees to the deal and soon finds himself sharing quarters with some of the most dangerous criminals in the world.
Soon after his arrival, and after the meeting with the prison's warden Hobbes (Caviezel), Ray senses that something is wrong; no one seems to know who he is or what he's there to accomplish. Realising that he needs to escape the as soon as possible, Ray befriends Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) and the duo soon learn that escaping the prison walls is not as easy as they think.
Never ones to shy away from the spotlight, it's surprising to learn that this long-awaited matchup has been in the works for quite some time. Therefore, it's even more surprising that neither actor appears fully connected to their roles. Seemingly set in their ways, both Stallone and Schwarzenegger rely heavily on a repertoire of cheesy one liners and overflowing bravado.
Additionally, almost every scene is shot with extreme close-ups, which proves rather unflattering for the time-worn stars. With very few action scenes, Stallone and Schwarzenegger are given little room to do what they do best. Meanwhile, despite being full of familiar faces, the supporting cast are neglected by the story, instead giving the spotlight to a watered down Sylvester and Arnie.
Escape Plan is filled with recognisable action film traits – but not the good kind. This is a film with a predictable plot, awful dialogue and far too many clichés, whose only potential redeeming features are equally downtrodden.
Failing to develop its concept, writer-director James DeMonaco’s final chapter in the horror series, The Purge, the franchise has reached its final destination with a damp squib.
Set in year 2025, it’s once again time for the annual Purge; a government-sanctioned twelve hour period where anything, including murder, is allowed. Designed on the theory of keeping crime down for the rest of the year by letting people let loose, the New Founding Fathers of America - led by Caleb Warrens (Barry) - are big supporters of the occasion and look forward to it every year. However, Senator Charlene ‘Charlie’ Roan (Mitchell) is not exactly on board with the idea and having lost her entire family to the Purge eighteen years before, she’s determined to shut it down and eliminate the practice for good once she is elected President.
Naturally, Roan’s objections to the annual ‘cleansing’ doesn’t sit all too well with the Founding Fathers and order the assassination of the Senator during the upcoming Purge. Protected by Detective Barnes (Grillo), Roan’s security system is soon breached, forcing her and Barnes to flee and head to the streets where the annual violence has already begun.
Playing off of the same concept as the previous two films - except this time there seems to be very little creative direction from DeMonaco - there is an obvious lack of danger present in the mix, with the writing defiantly refusing to explore its premise beyond the aggression masked killers and bloody street violence. What was once a seemingly interesting idea that had theory behind it, now relies on a shock value that has simmered over the trilogy.
Offering a not-so-subtle political viewpoint, subjects such as racism, sexism and religion are integrated into the storyline, but are never really explored in the context of the film’s concept.
Adding to the story’s demise are performances from a cast who fail to evoke any emotion throughout the entire movie, let alone establish a connection with the audience. As the fearlessly-protective cop, Grillo is stiff and ends up taking the material given a little too seriously, while Mitchell is surprisingly hollow as the idealistic politician.
The rules of the game are unclear and the gaps in logic in DeMonaco’s flimsy screenplay are aplenty. Bloody, violent and ridiculously adrift, The Purge: Election Year has failed to cash in on its potential and has settled on a meandering ending to the series, reminding us all that it was probably never really that good to begin with.
Unnecessarily complex and generally lacking in excitement, The Legend of Tarzan is the latest attempt to reignite interest into what still remains a household name. Unfortunately, the legendary fictional characters to exist fails to really register with modern movie audiences in part due an overly complicated and overstuffed premise which never managed to translate into entertaining spectacle it should be..
The film is set in 1980 and it begins several years after Tarzan (Skarsgård) - now going by John Clayton III - has decided to leave the jungles of Africa behind for a life as a British aristocrat, alongside his wife, Jane Porter (Robbie). However, he is soon drawn back into his former habitat when he receives an invitation from King Leopold II of Belgium to return to Congo as a trade emissary for the House of Commons.
Accompanied by American statesman, George Washington Williams (Jackson), the Lord of the Apes soon finds out that his travelling companion actually wants his help in investigating the rumours that King Leopold is using slave labour to colonise the country and exploit its resources.
After agreeing to the mission, Tarzan, Jane and Williams make their way to Congo but soon cross paths with Captain Leon Rom (Waltz); a ruthless leader in charge of overseeing King Leopold’s operations whose devious plan - involving tribe leader Chief Mbongo (Hounsou) - forces Lord of the Apes to strip back and return to his feral form.
Scripted by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, there are far too many illogical hurdles and obstacles thrown at the story which, when stripped down, is the kind of classic hero-coming-to-the-rescue tale you’ve seen before. Set against a flimsy premise, the film boasts a needlessly complicated and a confusing two-way narrative storyline; one exploring the origins of our hero and the other celebrating his superhero abilities in a standard damsel-in-distress setup, all while trying to give weight to the plot with the real-life historic events involving Washington’s investigation into Leopold’s involvement in Congo during the 19th Century.
Directed by Harry Potter’s David Yates, the action sequences are executed well and there is a certain visual slickness in the effects. However, moments of less sophistication and a lack of creativity seep into the mix - the 3D is once again completely unnecessary - giving the movie a seemingly fake and unpolished feel.
Performance wise, all eyes are on Skarsgård, who proves to be a physically fitting choice for the role. However, his inability to evoke many emotions proves to be rather damaging to the picture which, in the end, is not anywhere near as adventurous, funny or exciting as it thinks itself to be.