Blu-ray Review - Escape Plan: The Extractors (2019)

Now Available

Bookmark and Share

Swinging for the fences while trying not to snack on the scenery, as a B-movie villain who jovially rattles off creepy anecdotes to intimidate his hostages at a moment's notice, Devon Sawa commands our attention in Escape Plan: The Extractors (aka Escape Plan 3).

As it turns out, however, he's one of only a few bright spots in this otherwise bland, paint-by-numbers actioner. Borrowing from the Game of Thrones playbook, The Extractors is shot in so much darkness that you'll probably wonder — as you squint along — if you either forgot to pay your electric bill or there's something's wrong with your TV.

But just when we think we've seen enough to know we're not going to miss much if we hit eject, Sawa and fellow new cast member Jin Zhang show up to change our mind. As the Sylvester Stallone franchise's newest dastardly villain and kick-ass hero respectively, Sawa and Zhang are so entertaining that viewers will probably wish they'd been tapped to play the leads in a new (and hopefully much better) action movie.

Like a silent, black-and-white movie from the 1920s where a kidnapped woman is left helplessly tied to the railroad tracks, Extractors' entire plot — what little there is of it — revolves around not one but two damsels in distress.

Called to action after a Chinese technology mogul's daughter is kidnapped and a flash drive with his name on it is found at the scene of the crime, Stallone's security (and escape) expert Ray Breslin prepares to go on the hunt to bring her back from an abandoned old Latvian prison where she's being held.

Raising the stakes by making her captor none other than Breslin's corrupt ex-partner's son (Sawa) — who grabbed her more to kick off the long game of revenge than collect a ransom — the film's screenwriters try to give it more emotional heft by visiting their favorite creative well again.

Not content with just one lady in waiting, The Extractors rinses and repeats the film's plot as Stallone's onscreen girlfriend (played by a tragically underutilized Jaime King) gets abducted and thrown in the Latvian pokey known as the Devil's Station as well.

While Dave Bautista has an absolute blast blowing stuff up and fighting his stunt double (which in Hollywood, I'm sure counts as some sort of action star on-the-job therapy), from a wasted King and a blink-and-you-missed it return by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson to a one note turn by Stallone, the rest of the franchise's previous stars just seem bored.

To inject the series — which was a huge hit in China — with a much needed shot of adrenaline, Stallone recruited dynamic Chinese star Jin Zhang, who bursts onto the screen and takes down a number of Breslin's co-workers with the aid of an umbrella. Fortunately, the two men aren't rivals for long. After the battle is over, Zhang's Shen teams up with Breslin because it seems that damsel in distress number one is his girlfriend.

Having multiplied the same plot point by Breslin and employed it twice, as director and co-writer John Herzfeld's film continues, we discover that that's one time and one damsel too many when the otherwise terrific Zhang and Harry Shun Jr. get kicked to the curb in the disappointing movie's largely lifeless second half.

And shockingly, although Stallone comes alive in a brutal — and from what I gather unchoreographed — actual fight with Devon Sawa that left both men bloody and battered, as written, Extractors might've worked better if Zhang had been promoted to the lead, Sawa and Bautista were left in the mix, and Stallone and King played an even smaller role.

As a lifelong Stallone fan, that's a hard truth to write, although it's probably not as hard as Zhang knocking down human obstacles with his trusty umbrella or Sawa exclaiming that he loves the sound of prison bars locking up for the night with the same glee that a child has after watching their first Stallone movie fight.

Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.