DVD Movie Review: Escape Plan 2: Hades

By Justin Prinsloo 04.10.2018

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Escape Plan 2: Hades (UK Rating: 15)

For better or worse, the dominant factor in a new film's success is whether or not it can be turned into a franchise. The original Escape Plan was left moderately open-ended and performed well abroad, particularly in Asia. This paved the way for 2018's Escape Plan 2: Hades, which is noticeably steeped in Chinese culture, likely an attempt to appease the majority of the first film's fans. Unfortunately, this entry will neither afford the Escape Plan brand widespread acclaim, nor a coveted spot on film lovers' DVD shelves. At best, the disc may make for an adequate coaster.

Every choice the producers of Escape Plan 2 made was the wrong one. From the overcomplicated plot to the dull script, to the abysmal direction to the abandonment of the silly but entertaining tone that made the original enjoyable, the viewer is ushered through a dilapidated museum of disappointing and straight-up boring attractions. Escape Plan 2 takes itself very seriously, an attempt at severity that implodes in light of its numerous flaws.

Even summarising the plot is a difficult task, as its weaving back and forth can be difficult to follow. The complicated storyline was perhaps intended to engage the intelligent filmgoer but is not compelling in the slightest. Shu Ren (played by Huang Xiaoming), protégé of Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) - who plays the protagonist in the original Escape Plan - is tasked with protecting his businessman cousin, Yusheng Ma (Chen Tang), while at a party in Bangkok. The two are kidnapped, however, and thrown into Hades, a top-secret mega-prison, where Yusheng is interrogated in order to disclose information about his patented technology. Meanwhile, Breslin finds out about his pupil's imprisonment and must devise a plan to break him out of the state-of-the-art prison.


 
From here, the film follows predictable genre tropes: fight scenes, espionage, betrayal, and escape. The pacing is so poor that every new development feels disjointed and out of place, causing the plot to stutter along with very little rhyme or reason. Curiously, Escape Plan 2 sidelines Breslin in favour of his protégé, ensuring that not even Stallone's talent can salvage this train-wreck.

The first indication that this film is a difficult watch is the very first fight scene. The hand-to-hand combat is actually fairly decently choreographed, but the inexcusably dreadful camerawork renders the scene - and all subsequent scenes - flaccid. As the camera bobs and dips around the combatting characters, you would be forgiven for falling ill to nausea. It's a shame, because some broader camera angles would at least have cemented the fights as a respite from everything else wrong with the movie.

With Escape Plan 3: Devil's Station already in post-production, more of the bland same seems unavoidable, barring a noticeable flash of inspiration from the production team. However, there is one question that sparks intrigue pertaining to the running theme of the follow ups' subtitles: why the obsession with hell? Perhaps these sequels are a divine punishment?

2/10
Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

Escape Plan 2: Hades' calamitous attempt to turn the Stallone-studded original into a franchise is not only devastatingly poor watching but its blatant attempt at a cash-grab is also unforgivably infuriating. Franchises predictably tend to fall by the wayside with each entry, but this iteration nosedives immediately and is everything that cinema should strive not to be: zero percent passion and one hundred percent greed.

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