Runtime: 115 Mins Total
What To Expect: What we’ve all been waiting for
This should be the Manliest Movie of 2013, unless something else has slipped my mind. None of this ‘it should’ve came 20 years ago’ bullshit. It came at a time when we needed it most. In the midst of a girlie-man takeover of movies, where everything up there on the screen looks like the celluloid equivalent of a bag of Skittles, comes some respite. The big guns have been brought up, this is a beer and steak movie. A genre favorite – the prison break out movie (up there with the manhunt movie, these are obligatory Manly genres), combines forces with Stallone and Schwarzenegger. And not a moment too late. Just when I thought the game was up and there were too many vegetarian movies coming at us, my batteries get recharged and hope reignited. Hell, it even has some political intrigue!
Stallone (Ray Breslin) earns a living being dropped into prisons and testing their defense mettle by breaking out of them. Great concept – why hasn’t someone gone here before? Anyway, his biggest job ever, busting out of a high-tech maximum security prison (think the prison from ‘Face/Off’) has him double crossed and locked down for real. With another inmate (Schwarzenegger), the game is on to bust out. Another (mystery) character and subplot are included here, but in the end it’s really surplus to requirement. This isn’t a straight action movie and to be honest, I would’ve been disappointed if it was. It’s a thriller first, action movie second – as it should be. Although it doesn’t quite have the patience or guile of, say, Escape From Alcatraz (1979), it is refreshing to see Stallone/Breslin take on Warden Caviezel in a game of wits. Jim Caviezel, by the way, this guy is one cool fucking cat. His death scene, and how he plays it, borderline extraordinarily fucking Manly.
The big selling point here is the team up of Schwarzenegger and Stallone. While Stallone is solid as ever, this is the first time in ten years (Terminator 3) that I felt like I was watching a real ‘Schwarzenegger’ movie on release week, and I really can’t remember how long since watching a good Arnie movie on release week. The Expendables movies were mere cameos. The Last Stand was sedate and a bit flat. But here, within minutes I felt something I haven’t felt in a long, long time – growing anticipation to see the Oak on screen. And the movie is clever enough to hold off introducing him straight away. When he does appear, and at last this isn’t one of those rip off two week extended cameos, he nails it and steals the show. Arnie is his old towering figure of monstrous charisma. Funny, huge screen presence, clearly enjoying himself and armed with hilarious put-downs and one liners.
There are imperfections though. The aforementioned mystery ‘subplot’ is half-baked and very predictable, I’m not sure how anyone won’t see it coming. The fight scenes are also weak, especially an encounter between Stallone and Vinnie Jones. The dreaded shaking-cam syndrome raises its ugly head with that fight, disappointing. That said, the finale/escape is very well played, like an extended version of Cage’s bust out from the Face/Off prison. One scene in particular sent shivers up my fucking spine. Schwarzenegger, y’see, holds off a wave of enemies (big body count) with a SAW LMG. The director slows proceedings down to let us relish this moment of exceptional Movie Mandom. During that short sequence, which I could almost say is worth the price of admittance for anyone born between 1970-90, my entire youth of VHS memories flashed through my brain. Bravo to this director, if you didn’t get anything else right, you had to nail this. And you did. The Last Stand tried it with the Maxim Gun and failed.
Is it hyperbolic to say that a great many people will die happy after this team up? I know that something big has been ticked off my list. The real deal.
REVIEW SCORE: 9/10