Escape Plan 2: Hades
2018, Lionsgate Films/Summit Entertainment
Sylvester Stallone is back, but maybe he should have sat this one out. Escape Plan 2: Hades is a sequel to 2013’s Escape Plan, a movie that starred Stallone alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger (it also featured Jim Caviezel, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio, 50 Cent & Vinnie Jones). Joining Stallone this time is Dave Bautista (Drax from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and former WWE wrestler), Titus Welliver, Jaime King, 50 Cent, Jesse Metcalfe, Wes Chatham & Chinese film star Huang Xiaoming.
When I first heard a sequel to Escape Plan was in the works, I was happy. I liked the original movie. It isn’t a classic, but it’s a good time and was a cool idea. I was a bit disappointed to learn Schwarzenegger would not be returning, but the addition to Bautista was a decent substitution. I figured we’d get to see Stallone & Bautista beat up a bunch of people in prison on the big screen and hopefully a Stallone vs. Welliver (the lead in Amazon Prime’s Bosch TV show, a show I love) fight. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
First off, Escape Plan 2 received no theatrical release. The movie was announced to be released on June 29, 2018 straight to video & digital. That’s not a good sign, but okay. I’m a huge Stallone fan, so I pre-ordered the Blu-ray a month or so in advance and was looking forward to that Amazon Prime shipping which guaranteed the movie would hit my mailbox on its release day. To get in the mood that evening, I watched the original movie first and my opinion still stands that it’s a fun film that had charm.
Sadly, the sequel is a complete mess that lacks the charm and sense of humor of the original (despite both being written by the same writer). The tone and atmosphere does not come close to the original and that was apparently the director’s choice, who wanted a sci-fi Ridley Scott feel for the prison in this movie. Well, he achieved that, but the end result is a feeling that this movie has absolutely no connection to the original other than using Stallone as Ray Breslin and 50 Cent returning as the “techno-thug” Hush.
The movie doesn’t even feel connected to itself. For the most part, you have Stallone in one corner with very little scenes until an hour into the movie, then Bautista in another corner, then the whole sci-fi prison thing happening. It’s like three movies going on at once and it feels like it was all filmed completely separate and at different times. There’s not much interaction between Stallone, Bautista and the sci-fi prison stuff.
****POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD****
The basic plot of the movie is Stallone’s character of Ray Breslin now runs a security company and has a crew of people that he sends out on missions. A few of those employees end up in super high-tech prison called HADES (High Asset DEtention Service). The majority of the movie focuses Huang Xiaoming, which is not surprising considering the first movie was a hit in China and this new movie was co-produced the Chinese film studio Leomus Pictures. Jesse Metcalfe and Wes Chatham also get considerable screentime. It’s not until the 1 hr mark where Stallone takes a bigger role in the movie and the climax features both Stallone and Bautista going inside the prison and help to bring down HADES.
So you’ve got a movie (Escape Plan 2) that’s a sequel to a movie where Stallone was absolutely the star (Escape Plan), and you’re advertising Stallone and Bautista as the stars. Nowhere in the marketing of this movie is anyone else really ever referenced. If promotion for this movie was honest, it would have centered around Xiaoming, Metcalfe and Chatham with Stallone and Bautista as background characters. It’s dirty trick and bait-and-switch by Lionsgate/Summit and Leomus Pictures, and the word is out as reviews for the movie are not kind. Deservedly so. Even if this was just some other prison movie not connected to Escape Plan, it would still be a bad movie, but to be so deceitful with the promotion of this movie as to who is really starring in this movie makes it even worse.
And it’s not like the studios can change direction based on audience feedback for the already announced third movie because it was filmed back-to-back with this one! That movie is in the can and is awaiting a release date. Rumored to be called Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station, that movie features Sly, Dave & 50 Cent yet again but an entirely new cast other than that. Which is odd because this movie ends rather abruptly with you thinking some of the other cast would carry on into the third movie.
I am not a fan of this little sci-fi prison “let’s use Stallone as a glorified cameo” movie experiment. Hopefully the next one give us what everyone wanted from this movie — Stallone & Bautista in a gritty prison somewhere killing a bunch of bad guys, but I won’t hold my breath.