Friday, January 29, 2016

Escape Plan

Year 8, Day 29 - 1/29/16 - Movie #2,230

BEFORE:  I took the online test for Jeopardy! last night - I meant to do it last year, but I missed the deadline for registeringIt's been a long-time goal of mine to qualify for the show, I've been trying on and off since about 1991.  I've passed the written test (back when it was on paper, before migrating to internet) several times, but I've never made it past part 2 of the auditions - that's where they check your personality (it helps if you have one) and you play a mock game, to make sure that you pick the next category quickly, keep the game moving, act excited (which is strange, because most of the contestants who make it to TV tend to act like stone-faced statues, even when they win).  

This was the first time I took the test via the interweb, and I had to answer 50 questions in a wide variety of subjects, but I only had 15 seconds to type in an answer for each one.  This was to prevent cheating, because even if I had my phone's browser ready to go, it took about 3 seconds to read each question, maybe another 3 to process, so after that, by the time I could grab the phone and determine the best phrase to type into a browser's search bar, there would only be about three seconds left.  At that point panic sets in, and typing is impossible, so it's best in the end to not cheat at all, and let the test determine how much knowledge my brain just happens to have handy.  I think I nailed about 40 of the 50 questions, but I know I missed the question about the presidential election of 1824, and the one about the book written by a prominent African-American author, and the name of the country that recently executed a sheik.  BUT, on another three or four questions that I didn't really know, I took my best guesses and I think I came up correct.  So now I have to wait and see if my score was high enough for them to call me in for a live audition.  

Both Stallone AND Schwarzenegger carry over from "The Expendables 3", so how could I not put this one next?  Damn, why didn't the Jeopardy! test ask me something easy, like how many "Expendables" movies have there been?

THE PLOT:  When a structural-security authority finds himself set up and incarcerated in the world's most secret and secure prison, he has to use his skills to escape with help from the inside.

AFTER: This is one of those movie plots that sounds at first like it's going to be really good - when I described it to my wife over dinner tonight, she said, "Damn, that's a great idea for a movie."  But it's all about the execution, right?  I mean, a great idea carried out poorly can become a terrible film.  Still, the more I thought about the premise, the more ridiculous it seemed to me.  Who would voluntary spend time in a maximum security prison, surrounded by dangerous prisoners and guards who beat prisoners and make prisoners endure inhumane treatment, just to determine IF it's possible to break out?  

In the real world, a security expert would no doubt spend time in a mock cell in a safe environment, right?  Because a guy could get killed in the joint if he's not careful, and then there would be liability lawsuits for years - OK, maybe this guy signs all kinds of waivers before he goes inside, but there simply must be a better, easier way to make money.  But this plot puts the character in a real prison, because movie, that's why.  

During the first escape, the audience just knows Stallone's character as a prisoner, so we're unsure whether to root for him as he carries out his plans.  It's only when his true nature is revealed that we feel comfortable being on his side.  And with a number of real-life prison escapes in the news during the last year - El Chapo and those two guys in upstate New York, this film couldn't be more timely. 

And to the film's credit, once he agrees to take on the job of a lifetime, in the world's toughest prison in an undisclosed location, there are still some twists to the plot.  The first one, I accidentally spotted while I was dubbing the film to DVD.  OK, that's my fault.  But I figured out the second twist 20 minutes in to the film, and that's on the casting director.  You only hire THAT actor guy for a particular type of role, and sure enough, that's who/what he turned out to be.  There is a third twist, but it doesn't make much sense, and I can't explain that without giving it away.  Our hero's closest associate inside the prison has information about a master crime boss named Manheim, which they trade to the warden for their own purposes, but...never mind, I've said too much already.  

I had a real problem with a lot of the conversations between Stallone and Schwarzenegger - both of these guys are hard to understand when they're speaking loudly, but here they had to do a lot of whispering, and it was nearly impossible to follow their conversations.  

Also starring Jim Caviezel (last seen in "My Own Private Idaho"), Vincent D'Onofrio (last seen in "Jurassic World"), Sam Neill (last seen in "The Vow"), Vinnie Jones (last seen in "Gone in Sixty Seconds"), Amy Ryan (last seen in "Birdman"), Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson (last seen in "Last Vegas"), Faran Tahir, Caitriona Balfe, Graham Beckel.

RATING: 4 out of 10 faceless guards

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