Escape Plan 2: Hades – Poorly conceived on every front

Disastrous writing makes for a disastrous film. Escape Plan 2: Hades is a perfect case in point.

Escape Plan 2: Hades (Ke Hoach Dao Tau 2) is a disaster, through and through. As unoriginal and implausible as the first part was. It followed a story that you could, at least, keep up with. Its sequel, sadly, does the audience no such favours. Filled with much technology/tech jargon (most of which, I’m sure, is conceived purely from the imagination) and action that, quite frankly, is there just for the sake of the genre. Part 2 presents a maximum-security facility for the new age. This prison is fully automated for the most part. And hosts inmates that are important to the founders of the establishment – hence the name, HADES (High Asset Detention Service). If you thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was bad in the original, wait till you see Huang Xiaoming.

The man is a stone-faced, expressionless mask. No matter what scene he is in. His character, Shu, fails to emote even an iota despite being in sequences that range from defending himself with his martial arts prowess or ideating an elaborate method of escape. Even in scenes he is required to show a human side (especially in the exchanges with his cousin).

He delivers deadpan lines to the camera with a hazy look in his eye. After some time, it won’t be unnatural to wonder if this primary protégé of Ray Breslin is actually a robot in human form secretly working for the other side. Whether all this is supposedly a character trait of the unfeeling hero or just subpar acting chops on the part of Xiaoming, cannot quite be determined, but I have a sneaky suspicion it’s the latter. Sylvester Stallone looks supremely bored throughout (a sentiment most people who watch this film will, no doubt, share). Making one wonder if he just gave up with the terrible writing and ridiculous story quite early into the process.

Ray Breslin’s new security company oversees a hostage rescue mission in Chechnya, with operatives Shu, Jasper, and Luke. During the rescue, Jasper breaks protocol by relying on a computer algorithm instead of trusting his team. This leads to the death of a female hostage. Back at headquarters, Jasper is fired by Ray for jeopardising the lives of his associates. When Shu is sent to Bangkok to protect his cousin Yusheng (a successful satellite businessman) from a technology giant. The duo is attacked by masked men. Despite putting up a brave fight, Shu wakes up in a strange facility that appears to run completely on automation. A PA system makes all the relevant announcements for the inmates. Fights are scheduled regularly, with winners receiving two hours of “sanctuary time.” In that precious little window. Shu must harness each of Ray’s teachings to find a chink in the seemingly impenetrable fortress’s armour.

Part 2 misses the presence of Amy Ryan, who is replaced by Jaime King (as Abigail Ross), in this one. Ryan’s constant back and forth with Stallone. Along with her wit and confidence, formed some of the more watchable moments in Part 1. But her replacement clearly shows that the makers are more interested in creating a hodgepodge of a tale with no cohesion or sense. As opposed to zoning in on the better parts of the original narrative, and improving upon them. Even Dave Bautista’s role in Escape Plan 2 is as curious as ever. Piecing together some of the nonsense that gets thrown at the screen. You can surmise that his character and that of Stallone’s have some sort of prior association. But the shoddy dialogue in their opening encounter does little to explain how. The sequel’s writing is rather disastrous.

The scenes just get crammed full of action (phim hanh dong) and technology. With apparently no thought or regard going into the presentation of an engaging story. The acting is a direct result of that writing. There’s nothing even a star can do with a dreadful script. Escape Plan 2: Hades makes its predecessor look brilliant. Truth be told, Part 1 wasn’t all that good, either. Be warned: another installment is on the way. Hopefully, that will end the rot that is the Escape Plan franchise.

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