Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Jared McMillan // Film Critic
ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES
Action movies are a great example for getting entertained by using a simple story, relying on aggressive visuals or a variety of loud noises to keep the audience engaged. On the other hand, there can be an intriguing story that keeps the viewer invested, with action scenes there to accentuate situations within the story.
Case in point, the 2013 flick ESCAPE PLAN, which sold the moviegoer by booking the dream team of Sylvester Stallone & Arnold Schwarzenegger. It marketed itself as an event, two of the biggest action stars of all time in a movie about breaking out of an escapable prison. While it got mixed reviews, the action was solid, with a lot of creativity going into the prison itself and the various hurdles to break out of said prison. Plus, the banter between Sly and Arnie proved to be charming even though the dialogue was uneven.
Cashing in domestically was a bit of a struggle, however the overseas pull was over $100m, proving to be somewhat profitable. So, five years later, and there is a new film in the franchise, ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES. Not only is it another movie about breaking out of a super prison, but it also employs the same marketing strategy, highlighting the new partnership of Stallone, who reprises his role of Ray Breslin, and Dave Bautista. This makes total sense in a passing-of-the-torch kind of way, with Bautista making a name for himself in the action game the past few years, and Stallone being Stallone.
However, marketing those two men are a bit of a swerve since they are essentially supporting characters for the movie, which centers on Shu (Huang Xiaoming). Shu is a member of Breslin’s security company, and somewhat of a protégé. While in Bangkok running security for his cousin, they are kidnapped and taken to prison a called HADES (High Asset Detention Service). It’s essentially a giant hostage holding area for those with access to secret intelligence. In Shu’s case, his cousin created a patent for a technology that can kill any defense system in the world.
Meanwhile, Ray gets wind of Shu going missing, and goes to find an old friend to help him break Shu and his cousin out, Trent DeRosa (Bautista). As they are preparing strategy, another member of Breslin’s team, Luke (Jesse Metcalfe), gets taken and put into HADES. While Ray and Trent figure out how to get them back, Shu and Luke constantly try to figure out how to break out before his cousin gets tortured enough to give up the patent to the HADES warden (Titus Welliver).
There are a lot of moving parts to ESCAPE PLAN 2, which is something that helps keep the viewer engaged. The concept of HADES is cool, and there are solid action set pieces, namely Shu’s fight sequences. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all the movie has going for it. The dialogue is terrible, with everyone using short sentences that have little to no impact. Additionally, the sound editing, as well as the overall editing, is always off. For instance, there are a lot of mismanaged cutaways. Actors give their lines, but the camera is on the other person for some reason, and then cuts back to the actor after they’ve said their line to just show their face. This happens so much that it kills the flow of the presentation.
Stallone, Bautista, and Co. do their jobs fine, but there is no flux of emotion in anything going on. Everyone has the same tone, reacting without any differentiation in facial cues or speech. It takes itself too seriously and ruins any B-movie enjoyment that comes with a fun action flick. There is nothing to hold the attention of the viewer, just moments to make the viewer “snap out of it.”
Hopefully they’ll reevaluate these errors before shooting on the next planned ESCAPE PLAN sequel. Because ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES turns out to be more of a purgatory than a fun escape.
ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES is available today on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital and On Demand.
- Making ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES Featurette
- Creating the Look ofESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES Featurette
- Building the Robot ofESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES Featurette
- Extended Cast / Crew Interviews