Escape Plan

Every now and then I feel a bit embarrassed by the sort of movies I like. But then I remember, actually? a) no one gets to tell me to be embarrassed, and b) just because I like explosions and chase scenes doesn’t mean I have to hand in my feminist credentials.

So yes, I love action movies. And when we saw that iTunes had a movie called Escape Plan listed, starring Sylvester and Arnie – and that we had never heard of it – well, that sounded like a perfect Saturday afternoon. And amazingly, it was way better than either of us expected.


There were problems with it, yes. The enemy-turned-ally becomes the plucky self sacrificing brown man. Which is always worth wincing over, not least because it’s so damned cliched. I still have absolutely no idea why we were meant to care about Schwarznegger’s character – that is, why the revelation at the end was meant to be so momentous. And of course it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, but actually in this context I have no problem with that. The fact that there actually are two women, with names, is impressive. And they’re not even love interests.

The premise: Sly has spent 14 years getting put into jail in order to figure out whether they can be broken out of. And of course, they all can be. So it’s Sneakers but with jailbreaks. Then he gets put into one that’s been designed to be used now that the US has ended extraordinary rendition. It’s a jail that will be privately run, privately organised, and house “the people no government wants responsibility for.”

Let’s just pause there for a moment and shudder. And then consider Australia’s policy on where it sends refugees that try to come here.

Inside, things are bleak, and Sly’s get-out plan is dead in the water. Then he makes friends with Arnie and they start planning how to break out. The prison is built vertically, and Sly thinks it might be built into cave fissures… but then he climbs up, and discovers that actually they’re on a massive ship. Which sounds crazytown, until today we read that Manus Island staff are living in a floating hotel. Which… hilarious. Sly can build a sextant from nothing and figures out where they are, and then it’s just a matter of calling in favours until they can escape.

What worked? Sly and Arnie together. They were awesome. The prison idea itself is pretty cool, and prison escapes lend themselves to entertaining convolutions of plot. It has zero re-watchability, but sometimes that’s ok.

When we finished, my darling suggested we watch the 6th Fast&Furious film, which neither of us has seen. But I refused.

I said that we had to start from the start, and watch the whole lot. So that’s what we’re doing at the moment.

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