Double Lock Up — Stallone and Schwarzenegger in ESCAPE PLAN, now on 4K Blu

In time for ESCAPE PLAN 2’s DTV release, Lionsgate brings the original to 4K UHD Blu-ray

Escape Plan is now available on 4K Blu-ray from Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate.

With Escape Plan 2 releasing on June 29th and a third film already in production, Lionsgate has upgraded the original 2013 entry in the new franchise with a 4K UHD Blu-ray release.

Throughout the action cinema of the 80s and 90s, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were fierce competitors at the top of the genre, in contention not only for box office numbers, but frequently seeking the same roles.

Perhaps it’s this competitive history and clashing of egos that prevented the two titans from ever costarring in a picture together (the alternate history in which John Woo directed the pair in Face/Off is one I want to live in). Sly had a cameo of sorts in The Last Action Hero (his likeness used on a memorable promotional standee) and Arnold played a fan-favorite supporting character in Sly’s Expendables franchise, but it wasn’t until 2013, with neither commanding the same box office draw of their prime, that the pair finally headlined a picture together.

Escape Plan finds Sly playing Ray Breslin, an escape artist and auditor of sorts who gets dropped into maximum security facilities undercover in order to investigate them for weaknesses, typically identifying flaws in their security and escaping in the process. We find that he literally wrote the book on prison security — a book that figures into the plot when he gets tossed into an illegal, off-the-grid prison that has no intention of letting him go. The warden (a delightfully smarmy Jim Caviezel) knows all his tricks — he built the place using Breslin’s book as his guide.

Inside, Breslin befriends Emil Rottmeyer (Schwarzenegger), a mysterious political prisoner who is incredibly smart and resourceful. It’s a great role for Schwarzenegger, and one of his more charming performances — a good-natured German engineer who seems to know more than he lets on, and seems all too eager to help Sly concoct an elaborate escape.

Despite its pairing of action legends, Escape Plan didn’t set the world on fire, and fans of newer action cinema centered on insane displays of martial arts and spectacle (The Raid, Mad Max: Fury Road, etc) scratched their heads at the prison escape drama that is structured more like a heist picture with meticulous planning than a beat-em-up, shoot-em-up. But it’s a solid film that hearkens back to the 80s and 90s. It’s a bit short on huge action, but the setup is an intriguing one.

The most critical element of the film is that Sly and Arnold prove they have legitimate chemistry together. The characters achieve a natural rapport and it’s fun to watch them work out the details of their planning together, eventually pulling in a third conspirator (Faran Tahir, recognizable as the lead terrorist from Iron Man or the original Enterprise Captain in Star Trek) who also brings a fun dynamic to the trio as someone who is first antagonistic to the pair (as outsiders to his Muslim prison clique) but eventually joins their plot.

The film has an impressive cast overall with Sam Neill, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Amy Ryan, and Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent, who returns in the sequels) occupying supporting roles. However these are all pretty minor roles, because let’s be clear: this is the Stallone-Schwarzenegger show.

The biggest problem with Escape Plan isn’t that it does anything wrong, but that it doesn’t quite live up to immense promise of its legendary pairing, ultimately being a mid-tier entry to either actor’s filmography instead of something truly special and incredible. It feels right at home with the likes of Lock Up, Daylight, and Eraser, but with this team-up it feels it should’ve delivered more on the level of a Terminator, Predator, or Rambo.

The Package

Escape Plan is now available on 4K Blu-ray from Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate. The package includes a 4K disc, Blu-ray disc, and UV digital copy. Mine also came with a slipcover, glossy in appearance with metallic accents.

The 4K disc includes the special features — always worth mentioning since most 4K discs are movie-only these days.

How fares the 4K? According to IMDB, the movie was shot on a 2.8K source and mastered as a 2K Digital Intermediate, so like many Lionsgate catalogue releases this is an upscale rather than a true 4K resolution. Escape Plan’s prison setting, while slick and futuristic, is not particularly colorful, so while the addition of HDR adds some dimensionality, it’s not a razzle-dazzle sort of presentation — but it does look great. The existing Blu-ray already had a very clean, crisp appearance (shown in screenshots on this article), and that is even truer now.

Typical of Lionsgate’s catalogue 4K upgrades, Escape Plan carries a low price tag so even if you’re bearish on 2K upscales, if you’re a fan it’s worth consideration to own the film in the best possible presentation at a solid value.

Special Features and Extras

  • Audio commentary with director Mikael Håfström and co-writer Miles Chapman
  • “Executing the Plan: The Making of Escape Plan” Featurette (22:13)
    Combines interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to tell the story of the film’s production
  • “Maximum Security: The Real-Life Tomb” Featurette (21:57)
    A fascinating mini-documentary about prison security with little to no connection to the film.
  • “Clash of the Titans” Featurette (15:34)
    On uniting the film’s two powerhouse action stars for the first time
  • Deleted Scenes (8:13)
    Perhaps the most interesting thing here is the slightly expanded roles for Breslin’s employees (50 Cent and Amy Ryan)
  • Additionally, the Blu-ray disc has promotional trailers for Divergent (2:32), Dredd (1:08), Expendables 2 (1:07), and The Last Stand (1:39).
  • The Blu-ray disc also includes a DTS-HD Sound Check utility for speaker testing.

A/V Out.

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All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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