Although not as good as the original with Sly really more of a mentor Escape Plan 2 is action-packed and paves the way for part 3 which is out later this year. It’s a shame Arnie didn’t come back though.
Plot: Ray Breslin manages an elite team of security specialists trained in the art of breaking people out of the world’s most impenetrable prisons. When his trusted operative, Shu Ren, is kidnapped and disappears inside the most elaborate prison ever built, Ray assembles an elite team to assist in the rescue.
Review: The main selling point of the first Escape Plan was the teaming up of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger; something we’d all been wanting to see since their heyday in the 80s. It mostly delivered the action goods so when a sequel was announced rumour had it Arnie was set to return and we’d get more badassery. Sadly, Arnie is nowhere to be seen in Escape Plan 2: Hades and is instead replaced with Dave Bautista who strangely only has about one brief action scene but is otherwise underutilized.
Stallone is also more of a supporting character with Xiaoming Huang taking the lead as Shu Ren… because it’s financed by Chinese Investors. Shu isn’t all that interesting a character so we never really build up any rapport with him and frankly we spend most of the movie counting down until Sly is back on screen. Don’t get me wrong, Stallone still has a sizeable enough role but he is more of a mentor only really getting in on the action in the second half and even then he is showing is age a little so the final fight scene is rather short and forgettable.
Aside from that Hades has plenty of action with fight scenes every few minutes as inmates are forced to fight in “The Zoo” where the winner gets to spend time in “The Sanctuary” and the loser… doesn’t.
There is a little bit of shaky cam during some of the fights and also CG blood/explosions which is always an immediate turn off but considering this is straight to DVD fare there are still some imaginative visuals.
This is a bit more sci-fi than its predecessor with medical droids and lasers making a more futuristic environment which may leave some scratching their heads but I just rolled with it and enjoyed it for what it was.
My favourite aspect was the music score from The Newton Brothers which was clearly influenced by Blade Runner 2049 and worked really well with the visuals.
At around 90 minutes long it’s well paced and never dull even if the main villain is a little predictable; you can figure it out pretty quick.
Overall, despite the lack of Arnold (and a smaller budget) Escape Plan 2: Hades is an entertaining romp with enough action to keep it interesting but it’s definitely inferior to the original in every way.