Escape Plan (2013)
During the 80s and 90s, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were action movie kings. However, up until recent years, they had never made a movie together.
I watched Stallone being interviewed by David Letterman the other day, and Stallone revealed that he and Schwarzenegger used to absolutely hate each other. They would always have to one-up each other. Now, I’m thinking, wouldn’t it have been great if at some point when the two actors were enemies, they actually played enemies on screen. People definitely would have paid to see that. I know I would have.
Something must have helped Stallone and Schwarzenegger resolve their differences because Escape Plan is the third movie that they have made together in the last three years, and the fourth one is on the way in 2014.
Escape Plan is about a prison escape artist (Sylvester Stallone) who has made a career breaking out of maximum security prisons all over the US. One day, he gets a job offer that he cannot refuse that lands him in a prison that was built using a book that he had written as a guide to building escape-proof prisons.
The film was directed by Mikael Hafstrom and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Matt Gerald, Faran Tahir, Sam Neill, Caitriona Balfe, and 50 Cent.
Earlier this year, Stallone and Schwarzenegger both proved that they can still be action heroes, even in their upper 60s. Stallone did it in Bullet to the Head (2012) and Schwarzenegger did it in The Last Stand (2013). Escape Plan was better than each of those movies. Each actor looked better physically, and they both carried themselves very well. Maybe it was because they were both in the film together and they continued to try to outdo each other again. Whatever it was, it worked.
Escape Plan exceeded my expectations. The movie was a welcome, unpredictable surprise. It had a lot of original ideas mixed with a few classics, for old time sake.
Caviezel and Jones had very fun supporting roles. 50 Cent somehow manages to keep weaseling his way into films, and I swear that he is always trying to ruin them. He was terrible, as usual.
It was delightful to see Sly and Ahnuld cracking skulls in the same movie. If you were ever a fan of their movies in the past, you won’t be able to help but like this movie.
I rate this movie an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
Bullet to the Head (2012)
This is another movie that I skipped seeing in the theatre because I was uncertain that the aging main character could make the movie worth watching.
The senior action movie stars keep making movies and I think that audiences are beginning to question whether or not these old guys are just too old for the parts that they are playing. In this case, Sylvester Stallone is the main character.
I respect my elders, and these guys rule! However, if they keep making action films, I will probably keep waiting until those movies are released on DVD before I watch them. (Bruce Willis is the younger of the mentioned bunch, but can still be questionable.) There are always exceptions, but right off the bat, their old age is not working in their favor.
Stallone has had the right idea by bringing all of the old geezers together for his Expendables movies, but in this day and age, if there is one old headliner then it better be in the right movie.
All 3 movies mentioned lost a lot of money:
The Last Stand (2013) lost 18 million dollars.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) lost 25 million dollars.
Bullet to the Head (2012) lost 46 million dollars.
Bullet to the Head is about a ruthless hit man (Sylvester Stallone) who goes on a rampage tracking down the men responsible for the murder of his partner in crime. He is a one-man wrecking ball out for revenge. Along the way, he teams up with a cop who happens to be tracking the same people.
The film was directed by Walter Hill and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Jon Seda, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Holt McCallany, and Brian Van Holt.
Like the title suggests, Bullet to the Head brutally gets to the point early on and the graphic violence continues throughout.
The film is fast-paced and loaded with tons of great and for the most part, believable action.
The movie very much deserves the R-rating as there is a lot of language, nudity, and very realistic blood and guts. There are in fact, many people that end up taking a bullet to the head and or the rest of their body.
As with most action movies, not all of the characters get fully developed, but the action and witty dialogue make up for what is missing.
The film accomplished what it set out to do and that was to be explosive.
Even at his age, Stallone carries himself well in perhaps his most gruesome role yet. He is a stone cold, no nonsense, sarcastically funny killer. It’s almost like he flipped a switch and became somebody else. The rest of the cast is likable, but Stallone takes over and makes it a one-man show.
Compared to The Last Stand and A Good Day to Die Hard, in my opinion, Bullet to the Head is the better film. Ironically it lost a lot more money than the other movies and it was probably the most underrated of the bunch. Stallone also gave a better performance than Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If you enjoy rooting for the bad guy, then this film is for you.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent or run? Buy.
The Last Stand (2013)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, again. He must have gone a little heavy on the spray tan and make-up because his face looks like a tanned piece of aged leather, but he’s back. I held off seeing this movie in the theatre because I was not sure if Ahnuld could pull this one off.
The Last Stand is about a drug lord that escapes from protective custody and heads for the Mexican border. The only thing standing in his way of freedom is small town Sheriff Ray Owen (Schwarzenegger) and his band of misfit deputies.
The film is directed by Kim Jee-Woon and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, Peter Stormare, Eduardo Noriega, Jaimie Alexander, Zach Gilford, and Harry Dean Stanton, and Genesis Rodriguez.
The film does not have a lot of character development, but there is a bit of stupid comedy and tons of action. The special effects are actually quite good and they help to make the film enjoyable. There are endless car chases, bullets are flying, people and things are exploding, blood is spattering, and fans of 90s action movies are applauding.
Schwarzenegger, Knoxville, Guzman, and Stormare all make this action movie more of a comedy not to take too seriously.
Whitaker seems to be the only person in the film taking his part seriously and it fits his character like a glove.
Overall, the film was better than I expected it to be. It’s a bit predictable at times, but for the type of movie that it is, that is to be expected. It certainly seemed like they had fun making it. Even though Schwarzenegger looked a little goofy, he pulled his character off quite well and it was fun to see him acting again.
I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
If you liked The Last Stand, then you will probably enjoy:
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
I had not heard any good things about this film prior to watching it. However, I started watching the movie without any high expectations. I heard people say that it was the fakest movie in the whole series. I heard people say that it was the worst Die Hard yet. My question that I have for those people is what did you expect? This is the fifth Die Hard movie. It’s the fifth one! To put that into perspective, the original Die Hard (1988) was 25 years ago. I was 2 years old when that came out and Ronald Reagan was the President. It was 2 years until they made the second film. The next film was 5 years later, then 12, and now 6 years after that. Willis has played the same character for 25 years and you wonder why A Good Day to Die Hard was not as good as the others?
In this fifth installment of the Die Hard Series, John McClane (Willis) travels to Russia to confront his troubled son Jack, (Jai Courtney) whom he doesn’t know is an undercover CIA agent on a mission. John unknowingly ruins Jack’s mission and the two are forced to work together to try to repair the damage done.
Over the last 25 years, Die Hard movies have become an American tradition. They are filled with action so far-out, intense, and convenient that it’s unbelievable. However, the beautiful destruction, explosions, slow-motion debris dodging, and endless one-liners from Willis is enough to keep us entertained.
A Good Day to Die Hard follows in the footsteps of its ancestors, sort of. The action is just as incredible, but far more convenient and therefore way less realistic. The destruction is pretty, but not as glorious. There are still explosions and tons of debris and Willis still has the best one-liners.
Besides Willis, the film lacks credible big name stars. It felt like the movie was made just to make another Die Hard film. Everyone just kind of went through the motions and parts of the movie felt like a satire of itself. The McClane family kept referring to how they do this stuff all of the time. The film made fun of itself and all that succeeded in doing was to help bring the movie down a notch.
With the addition of Courtney, the film is a father and son shoot-em-up adventure that is still worth the rental, if only to carry on the Die Hard tradition. It’s good for a few chuckles. Besides self-destruction, the movie still has some entertaining gun fights and plenty of stuff blows up.
I rate this movie a 6 on scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
If you liked A Good Day to Die Hard, then you will probably enjoy: