Escape Plan 2: Hades is a needless sequel to the 2013 film, starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the only selling point of which was the two aging stars bantering. Sylvester is even older now, and in decent shape, but doing an assortment of action films that are not just instantly forgettable, but also similar looking.
In this, he is mostly the poster boy for the testosterone on display, while the heavy lifting is done by his muscular-and younger-co-stars, with his voice relaying sage advice. In the US, the film has gone straight to video, but it gets a proper theatrical release in India, probably because Sylvester has fans here.
Sylvester returns to play Ray Breslin, a security expert who specialises in getting in and out of high-security prisons. So he already has the required inside track needed to spring a member of his team out of an escape-proof hell, where he is wrongly incarcerated. Shu (Huang Xiaoming) is kidnapped along with his tech wiz cousin Yusheng (Chen Tang) and thrown into the impenetrable, high-tech prison, the nastiness of which can be guessed by the word “Hades” in the title.
As can be expected the warden is an evil man who calls himself “The Zookeeper” (Titus Welliver) and forces the prisoners into brutal Fight Club style bouts. Ray, his ally Trent (Dave Bautista), and his associates, Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), Luke (Jesse Metcalfe) and token female Abigail (Jaime King) rush to the rescue. This is the kind of film that has lines like “It’s show time” when the mayhem starts. Words are useless when action is all there is, with a thin plot as an excuse to stretch it into a full-length, but mercifully short.
To make up for the lack of humour, the production design of Hades goes overboard, and there are some strange characters populating the film — like a trio of albino hackers calling themselves Legion — and prison robots too.
In spite of its unabashed mediocrity, there is Part 3, Devil’s Station, ready, when ideally, this franchise should have been killed and buried. If Sylvester Stallone wants to keep his career alive, there is always The Expendables to revisit.