Escape Plan 2: Hades
dir Steven C Miller
scr Miles Chapman
prd Randall Emmett, George Furla, Xing Su, Jie Qiu, Mark Canton, Zack Schiller, Robbie Brenner
with Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, Huang Xiaoming, Jesse Metcalfe, Curtis Jackson, Jaime King, Wes Chatham, Titus Welliver, Chen Tang, Pete Wentz, Shea Buckner, Tyler Jon Olson
release US 29.Jun.18, UK 20.Jul.18
18/US Lionsgate 1h36
Escape Plan 2: Hades
Prison blues: Bautista, Stallone and Metcalfe

jackson king welliver
Escape Plan (2013) Escape Plan 3 (2019)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Escape Plan 2: Hades This low-rent sequel abandons the cheesy tone that made its starrier predecessor a guilty pleasure. This growling, overserious action movie batters through a convoluted plot that only barely connects moments of manly violence and high-tech coolness. And the prison-break stuff is so contrived that it's never entertaining. Still, the production design and the eclectic cast keep it mildly intriguing.

After a daring rescue in Chechnya goes wrong, a crack private security team (including Jackson, Metcalfe and King) returns to Atlanta to face their guru-like boss Breslin (Stallone), who sacks lone-wolf Kimbral (Chatham). A year later, teammate Shu (Huang) finds himself alongside Kimbral in the sci-fi prison Hades, where the warden (Welliver) wants Shu's cousin Yusheng (Tang) to hand over a patent for his world-ending satellite tech. So Breslin mobilises his team and calls in old friend Derosa (Bautista) to help. But this prison seems fiendishly impossible to escape.

The plot lurches from one action beat to the next, including guns-blazing mayhem, flashy street-style chopsocky and brutal mixed martial arts. In between, there's a lot of bluntly functional dialog that hilariously over-explains everything, including voiceover flashbacks featuring Breslin's words of wisdom. As the story progresses, more of Breslin's team ends up in Hades forced to battle each other in a thunderdome. Eventually of course, Breslin himself is dragged in to further break Shu's spirit.

Actors are fairly irrelevant in movies like this. Stallone's earnest preachiness tries to add oomph, but Breslin is only interesting when he dives into the action. Bautista strides nonchalantly around the edges. Even though he drives much of the plot, Huang has little to do but glower and fight. The supporting cast fills in the blanks adequately, with Metcalfe and Chatham efficiently providing some hairy masculinity. King and Jackson appear to have shot their scenes separately in about an hour, so remain on the fringe of the action.

The futuristic prison is comical, with its taser-emitting floors, robot doctors, forcefield doors, shifting floorplan and zen-like "sanctuary". The unseen puppetmaster is clearly someone we already know, so that revelation isn't surprising. But then, nuanced storytelling isn't something we expect from a movie like this. Indeed, there's only one way the story can end. At least there's a certain amount of fun to be had watching these disparate characters interact and face off. Although the promise of a sequel elicits a groan.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 15.Jul.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall