Escape Plan 2: Hades Blu-ray Review

Please Let Viewers Escape

Escape Plan 2 comes from a mix of Chinese/American production companies and 33 (!) co-producers, also a mix of Chinese and Americans. The cast too, Chinese/American, shuffling stars from both regions.

It’s relevant because nothing else in Escape Plan 2 is. What’s critically alluring is the propaganda angle. While real world debate swirls over China’s prolific patent theft, Escape Plan 2 tells a story of tech smart Chinese men, imprisoned for their patent knowledge. Here, the American prison system (corrupted of course) tries to beat the patents about of China – literally.

It’s cruel to the point of obscenity, roughly laying out the perspective of Asian countries under attack from American oppressors. Us versus them, and with only a single side. Propaganda, and in search of empathy.

This movie is crying out for a Hong Kong or Chinese director

This prison facility, named Hades, locks people in and tortures them for profit. Prison privatization, dressed in unattractive, low budget neon, becomes the primary catalyst. It’s every bit the wonky, disjointed subtext expected from something like Escape Plan 2.

Yes, Sylvester Stallone is in this movie. Dave Batista too. They pair on the cover like Stallone and Schwarzenegger did for the first. Escape Plan 2 is not their movie though. Prominent Chinese actor Xiaoming Huang dominates, used to cliché for his martial arts aptitude as he brawls inmates. This movie is crying out for a Hong Kong or Chinese director. Steven C. Miller directs with claustrophobic sight and nauseating camera movement with no appreciation for the choreography.

To make sense of anything else in Escape Plan 2 is to reach an intellectual hernia. It’s nonsense. Someone found a way to build a rotating underground prison which no one knows the location to, all for the sake of hijacking Chinese tech. That doesn’t appear too profitable. This time, Stallone needs to break into the hidden prison in order to break out, all while Escape Plan 2 drones on for an hour repetitiously.

Not there is a cool robot. That’s something in a film with nothing.

In the climactic moment, Escape Plan 2 sets up another sequel. From here, the story only continues on a path of indoctrination. This series now isn’t terribly fond of the Americas. Criticism has merit. Escape Plan 2 though is equivalent of a poster showing Americans digesting Chinese patent sandwiches while the foreigners struggle in the clutches of a bug-eyed warden wielding a nightstick. How absurd.

Video

Drenched with dim blues and teals inside Hades, the look of Escape Plan 2 is eaten by the palette. A mix of green breaks up the dull monochrome sights, offering a slight reprieve on occasion. If there’s a break, it comes outside. Stallone sits in warmer areas with rich flesh tones. That looks okay.

A few instances of chroma noise and banding slip in. Some stock exteriors let compression artifacts run rampant. Otherwise, the encode is fine. Noise is cleanly held in check. That allows detail to flourish. Spectacular close-ups remain at a high-grade zenith. Textural qualities exhibit the best potential of digital cinematography. Droll as the style may be, it’s primed to deliver detail in droves.

While color decisions drop contrast a few notches, black levels pick up their end. Tremendous heft in the shadows push dimension into the frame. True black is a consistent presence. When contrast does breathe, outside of the lighting’s impact, the whole package is quite attractive.

Audio

Routine support from this DTS-HD mix gives Escape Plan 2 the minimum of sonic life. Crowded prison areas spread ambiance. A few shoot-outs help prop up the surrounds with bullet impacts and shots. The spread offers satisfying positioning on a budget.

Range is fine, if unspectacular. Punches and kicks ignite the low-end with a touch of oomph. Gunshots do the same. Intelligible dialog doesn’t move beyond the center.

Extras

Three featurettes dig into the production. One making of is primarily a plot/character recap. A look into the production design is of a little interest, but held back by a measly three minute runtime. The final one looks into building the physical robot prop, again interesting but only reaches four minutes.

All of the interviews used in those featurettes collect into six interview segments. Together, they reach almost an hour. Clearly, the material is there for richer bonus content.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 13 Escape Plan 2 screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 13,000+ already in our library), 50+ exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.