There’s something to be said about taking a step back to lean on a predictable formula…
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) manages an elite team of security specialists trained in the art of breaking people out of the world’s most impenetrable prisons. However, when one of his trusted operatives is kidnapped and disappears into the most elaborate prison ever built where the inmates are forced into brutal combat with one another, Ray will put his skills to the ultimate test in order to save his friend.
It ain’t high art, but Escape Plan 2: Hades in an obvious attempt to curtail some foreign markets (it didn’t get a theatrical release here in Canada but did in many other markets) is still a hell of a fun action flick that you don’t need to think all that hard about as it washes over you which in many ways actually makes it an improvement from the original installment of this franchise.
Director Steven C Miller steps to the forefront here taking the helm on the franchise and his extensive experience working in the high grade yet somewhat budgeted realm of genre filmmaking has allowed him to shoot fast and effectively while still maintain the right amount of eye for story and character development. It’s not the prettiest but it’s usually the most effective while still looking like a legit piece of cinema, the action has real flow to it while the script from Miles Chapman who has continued on from the original film sustains a certain sense of continuity with some of these characters while making sure not to mix up the beats of the narrative to much.
Nothing here is reinventing the wheel, but all involved do a solid job of world building in what could easily be present day or somewhere in the not to distant future, and while it is obviously foreshadowing to yet another film in the franchise (Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Island is ALREADY in post-production). It plays in some visual edges to keep us guessing without being hokey or obviously cheap about the whole thing and the action sequences while simple are all pretty well staged.
Sliding back in as Ray Breslin, Stallone admittedly doesn’t have to do a whole hell of a lot on this one; however he still has that bad ass movie star swagger even now at the age of 72 and counting. Xiaoming Huang is a very recognizable name in his native China and is a solid name to breathe some fresh blood into the franchise. Dave Bautista holds his own with Sly at every turn as Trent Derosa, while Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson, Jamie King and Jesse Metcalfe are good enough, the consistently underrated Titus Welliver and Wes Chatham just didn’t get a whole hell of a lot to do.
Picture and sound quality and the Blu-Ray are top notch and the special features include the three behind the scenes featurettes.
It’s not really a film where anyone really gets to dominate from a character standpoint which is obviously done by design in order to keep production costs down but Escape Plan 2: Hades works fine as a flashy (on a budget) action thriller that actually makes this critic look forward to seeing the next installment in the franchise.
- Release Date: 7/10/2018