Director: John Herzfeld
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Devon Sawa, Curtis Jackson, Jaime King
Watch Escape Plan 3 online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play
The Escape Plan films have been a rather odd duck of a franchise, the first being notable for the Stallone/Schwarzenegger pairing but also for the admittedly rather fun concept of a prison architect being stuck in an impenetrable prison. The second was only of note for Dave Bautista’s character’s bizarre obsession with AirPods and Stallone’s dissing of its creation on Instagram. With the third getting the green light before the second was even released, The Extractors has the air of an apology before a misdeed had even been made apparent.
It is a credit to co-writer/director John Herzfeld that he has made a film that is better than the second and seems to right wrongs before the reviews of the previous instalment had even been seen. For a start, Stallone seems to actually be the focus this time. While there are new protagonists around him, this instalment feels much more of a piece with the first and the story follows on quite nicely from it – security expert Ray Breslin (Stallone) is hired to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Hong Kong tech mogul from a formidable Latvian prison, while Breslin’s girlfriend (Jaime King) is also captured. He and his team, including Trent DeRosa (Dave Bautista) and Hush (50 Cent), must pull off a rescue mission.
That’s not to say that we have the best action film of the year here, however, oh no. Don’t be silly, dear reader. Escape Plan 3 is a film made seemingly on the cheap with a runtime padded out by multiple scenes of Devon Sawa (repeating for those in the back: yes, Devon Sawa) being threatening by making his prisoners tell him folk tales and give him language lessons and Stallone, Bautista and co. walking or crawling around various darkly lit spaces (the film retains the second’s really quite awful colour palette).
A final fight scene set in a prison cell does feel like Stallone was given the direction “monologue about having a bad dad and punch Mr. Sawa repeatedly” but has a pure raw feel that looks like it pure, straight hurt. It’s also fun to see Stallone and Bautista interact; they don’t get much to do together but when they do, they have an old-school, weathered energy that feels like a dying breed in action cinema.
While Escape Plan 3 lacks the unique cinematic talents of Pete Wentz, after his incendiary cameo in the second film, it still remains a better experience, if not something you could necessarily call a “good” film. With Stallone taking a more central role and a feel that they might actually leave these films alone now, if you want to take a chance on this, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.