Escape Plan: The Extractors was directed and co-written by John Herzfeld (2 Days in the Valley, Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story) and Miles Chapman (Escape Plan, Escape Plan 2: Hades) and stars Max Zhang (Shaolin vs. Evil Dead: Ultimate Power, The Brink) Harry Shum Jr. (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, Broadcast Signal Intrusion) Sylvester Stallone, (Grudge Match, The Expendables), Devon Sawa (Black Friday, Death Rider in the House of Vampires) Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries, The Shannara Chronicles),
We also get Russell Wong (Contract to Kill, Lost in the Pacific), Jaime King (Barely Lethal, Odean’s Eight), 50 Cent (Power, Spy), Lydia Hull (Extraction, Survive the Night), and Dave Bautista (Final Score, Kickboxer: Vengeance). It follows Ray and a partner as they try to break his girlfriend and the daughter of a Chinese tech mogul out of a prison.
The Plot: While stronger than the second movie, Escape Plan: The Extractors still lacks the drive of the first, despite having some solid motivations and a couple of surprises. Daya (Jow) and bodyguard Bao (Shum Jr.) are searching for a place to set up in America on behalf of her father, Wu (Wong), a businessman. After acquiring space in Ohio, Daya is kidnapped by Lester Clark Jr. (Sawa) (son of D’Onofrio’s character in the first) who leaves a flash drive for Ray (Stallone) and puts her in a Latvian prison.
Shen (Zhang) takes a flash drive (different from the one Bao has?) to Ray and his team: Abigail (King), Hush (50), and Jules (Hull). Bao somehow gets there at the exact same time, showing his drive which has the prison in the background. Ray gets into contact with Trent (Bautista), who organizes the way there. Abigail is also kidnapped, to add even more motivation I assume; although it feels unnecessary. Ray, Bao, Shen, Jules and Trent go to Latvia and assault the prison, working to kill the ruthless (and I mean RUTHLESS) son.
The Characters: Again the characters in Escape Plan: The Extractors are better than the previous installment but unequal to the ones in the first movie, although there are issues with the utilization of some of the characters. Bao is the new head bodyguard for Wu’s company, making him a chaperone for Daya. Since he was beaten by Clark’s men, he’s motivated to make up for his failure. It’s simple, but it works. Shen fares better, having a personal gripe with Wu and his company; more specifically the lack of ethics as Wu has been putting his tech into the prisons from the previous movies.
Ray is the same as last time, lacking his mental processing power from the first movie, becoming more of a straight-up bruiser instead of a mastermind; and gets sidelined at that. Clark Jr. is the most interesting due to his sheer rage directed at everyone even tangentially involved in his father’s death. Again, simple, but his unflinching violence, impulsiveness, and willingness to deny the truth to serve his own angle is thoroughly entertaining and occasionally surprising. Performances are iffy overall, but Stallone and particularly Sawa are magnetic.
The Thrills: In Escape Plan: The Extractors thrills become the primary focus again, fortunately following in the footsteps of the first instead of “Hades”. Unfortunately, the thrills are mostly predictable, with the movie lagging for long periods of time to reiterate the motivations that the main characters abide by. A majority of the runtime is spent watching Ray, Shen, and Bao get prepared; with a few fights and expository conversations spliced throughout.
Some small questions are raised, mostly surrounding the location of the prison and the specifics of the Zhang corporation’s involvement in the current events, but there’s never anything as inventive as in the first movie which leads to this outing in an unnecessary trilogy stranded with little intrigue. Scenes with Clark Jr. are much better though. His unpredictability is in stark contrast to the rest of the movie’s convoluted linearity and as such he becomes the main attraction. Everything in between Sawa’s scenes is forgettable.
The Technics: Technically Escape Plan: The Extractors” is definitely under-funded, with heavy reliance on an empty and drab warehouse as one of the main locations; as well as an empty and dishevelled prison as the main location. Since Chapman and Herzfeld’s script is only related to the first Escape Plan in the loosest of senses, it doesn’t get the feeling right.
Violence is used to mask the distant relationship with the first, and it works just enough to maintain investment but doesn’t come close to resembling what the title says. Pacing is mixed here too, with a dismal first half that slogs its way through the setup of new characters, locations, and motivations in a partial effort to undo (or at least forget) the events of “Hades”. Thankfully, once the first half is over, the flaws are glazed over with some moderately engaging action as a consolation.
Escape Plan: The Extractors is the third and (hopefully) final installment in a trilogy that should’ve remained a one-off is far from the thinking man’s blockbuster of the impetus but does satisfy just enough violent urges to justify a one-time walkthrough of an all-new prison.
Escape Plan: The Extractors is available from Lionsgate on Digital, Blu-Ray and DVD.