Directed by Mikael Håfström. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Faran Tahir, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. (2013, R, 115 min.)
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Oct. 25, 2013
Breslin (Stallone) is one of the world’s leading experts on maximum security prisons, a skill he confirms by having himself clandestinely imprisoned in and then breaking out of them. He is hired to test the security at a supersecret, insanely secure private prison, where the world’s worst villains are kept. The prisoners are kept in window-encased cages with constant video monitoring, amid this open and openly brutal environment. Breslin is supposed to have a contact at the prison and an exit code to use if he needs to leave. When he gets to the prison, there is no contact nor value to the exit code. He is a prisoner, and the cold, sadistic warden Hobbes (Caviezel) is determined to keep him there for life.
Breslin encounters and eventually befriends Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) a fellow prisoner. Hobbes is also trying to break Rottmayer to find out where his boss on the outside is hiding and for whom vast international moneyed interests are searching. Doing what he does, Breslin begins to case the situation, determined against all odds to escape, and he recruits his friend Rottmayer to help.
The film is eventful and full of suspense, but also obvious and completely contrived. The prison is oppressive with its sense of omnipresent security – except for when it serves the plot to not be present. The exceptional cast is mostly wasted. Schwarzennegger fares better than Stallone in roles that were better-suited to both a few decades back. Caviezel continues to demonstrate as he does on TV’s Person of Interest that he does more by just whispering than most actors do using a wide range of volumes. The most surprising thing about this movie, outside of its length, is just how unsurprising it really is, especially regarding its tired climax.