have seen amateur movies on YouTube, shot on an IPhone, that have better special effects than the cheeseball fluff featured in the new movie Escape Plan 2: Hades. This Sylvester Stallone starring sequel to the not-so-great to begin with, 2013 feature, Escape Plan starring Sly and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is among the worst movies of 2018. Bad special effects, inept direction, and abysmal editing make Escape Plan 2: Hades, nearly impossible to endure.
Once again Stallone is playing the character of security expert Ray Breslin. Here Ray and his team, including Jesse Metcalf, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Jamie King, are hired to rescue hostages in a foreign country by developing an executing an ‘escape plan,’ get it? When the escape plan goes bad, Ray is forced to part ways with two members of his team, Jasper (Wes Chatham) and Shu (Xiaming Huong).
After firing Jasper, Ray let’s Shu take a leave of absence and from there, Shu goes home to Thailand and reunites with his cousin, a tech millionaire. The cousin is wanted for his deus ex machina technology and when he’s kidnapped, Shu gets taken as well. The two end up in Hades, a state of the art prison, said to be inescapable. Naturally, when Ray finds out his buddy is missing he knows what he needs, as escape plan.
My plot description is intentionally snarky but the movie deserves it. Little care is taken by director Stephen C. Miller to make Escape Plan 2: Hades watchable so the film deserves my condescending descriptors. Miller’s direction is borderline haphazard, as if we’re lucky when he’s able to plant his camera in the direction of the actors. The editing is employed to try and hide the directorial and storytelling deficiencies, using quick cuts to try and distract from the bad production design and bored acting.
Sly Stallone looks as if he’s not getting enough sleep these days. His speech has always been a tad slow but here, words fall from his mouth as if pushed with great effort but little energy or life. He doesn’t appear to care much about what he’s saying and comes off as content to deliver the minimum effort needed for his check. Director Miller tries to cover for his star’s disinterest by giving newcomer Xiaming Huong most of the heavy lifting but his martial arts can’t overcome Miller’s inability to capture martial arts in a visually interesting fashion.
The fight scenes in Escape Plan 2: Hades are nearly as sloppy as the special effects are laughable. Huong appears to be a capable fighter but the slapdash camera work and quick cut editing do more to hide his abilities than to exploit them. There are times during major fight scenes where it was impossible to even locate the lead characters amid the chaos of the staging of these scenes.
The CGI of Escape Plan 2 is camp level bad. The effects rendering on something as routine as muzzle flair from a handgun are laughably inept with tiny fireballs that look like cotton candy popping out of a gun. A big explosion in the opening of the film looked like an effect from the legendary modern bad movie Birdemic: Shock and Terror. That film however, at the very least, was entertainingly terrible, Escape Plan 2: Hades is merely embarrassingly cringe inducing.
Just what the heck was Dave Bautista thinking when he accepted this role? Was he desperate to share the screen with Sly Stallone? Bautista is billed as the second star of Escape Plan, equal to Stallone and yet he’s barely in the movie. Bautista doesn’t even have a fight scene, content to just hold a gun in one scene and fire the gun while lightly jogging toward danger later in the movie. Bautista matches Stallone’s lack of energy with his own barely there performance.
Escape Plan 2: Hades was supposed to be released theatrically, nationwide this weekend but someone thought better of that idea. Instead, this abysmal effort will haunt the DVD and Blu Ray racks as of Friday, tempting Stallone completists and those who can be tricked into thinking Bautista is doing another Drax like character. Don’t be fooled, Bautista is barely there and Stallone, in a sense, is barely there as well in one of the worst movies of 2018.