Kevin: The recent summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was only slightly more historic than the brief meet-up between Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010’s “The Expendables.” After getting to see these two icons finally sharing the screen, action fans were even more excited about the news that Arnie and Sly would soon be co-starring together in the rather unmemorably titled “Escape Plan.” Unfortunately the resulting movie was as unmemorable as its title, and after it predictably bombed in the U.S. it was largely forgotten about.
That is until we heard the surprising news a few years later that “Escape Plan” would be getting a sequel, due to the fact that the original did gangbuster business in China. Thus Sly is back in “Escape Plan 2: Hades,” which “premiered” at midnight last night on Video on Demand and is also available on Blu-ray/DVD starting today:
As you can tell from the trailer, Arnold is not in this one, but thankfully we do get the return of 50 Cent as a world-class computer hacker (I know, I know). Mainly this involves having 50 wear glasses and say words he obviously doesn’t understand, such as “algorithm,” “mainframe,” “compression systems,” and “hello.”
Sly also is the headliner, again portraying a genius security expert who tests various prisons by breaking out from the inside, but the real star of the film in terms of screentime is Chinese actor Xiaoming Huang, as an operative of Sly’s who needs his help when he is captured by a secretive organization and placed in the high-tech computerized prison known as “Hades.”
I could go into more detail, but I’m sure you mainly just want to know if “Escape Plan 2” is worth checking out if you are a Sly superfan. And the answer is: sure I guess, I mean it’s not like you even need to make an effort to see it in a theater, you can watch it on your couch with a couple of beers like I did. Director Steven Miller has directed a number of Bruce Willis’ straight-to-VOD offerings, and as is usually the case with Bruce in those films, Sly spends most of the first two acts in this standing around in offices giving orders to people, while finally getting into the action near the end (he does have a climactic fistfight that also involves an incredibly obvious body double).
Unfortunately when it comes to the action, Miller obviously has not gotten around to watching the “John Wick” films, because he seems to be stuck in the “Jason Bourne” era of action choreography. That means the camera is constantly shaking as if the director of photography had late-stage Parkinson’s, while the choppy editing makes it sometimes impossible to know who is fighting who or what the hell is going on. Maybe they wouldn’t have had to hide their actors’ obvious shortcomings if they hadn’t given so many fight scenes to “Desperate Housewives” pretty boy Jesse Metcalf.
But I’m guessing Sly enjoyed the light shooting schedule and fat paycheck (although hopefully after excoriating Bruce for being “lazy” he doesn’t follow his “Expendables” co-star down the VOD rabbit hole), because the end of the film blatantly teases an “Escape Plan 3.” I guess at some point I will get around to seeing what Chinese-related shenanigans Sly gets up to in that, but after watching “Escape Plan 2: Hades,” the only Sly sequel I care about right now is “Creed II”: