Southpaw [minor plot spoilers]: a boxer’s life crumbles when his wife is killed, and he loses everything else he cares about. For a standard beat-down/comeback sports story arc, it feels overly ripe and melodramatic – the ‘Fall’ section of the story takes forever and just gets worse and worse, to the point where it’s becomes borderline comical: losing wife, then fighting licence, then money, then child, then house, then gets a shit job… Because this bit and the token training montages take so long the short-but-more-upbeat ending doesn’t really counterbalance the emotional front end. For a boxing movie we don’t actually get much fighting either; as the focus is on 1-dimensional characters (slimy agent, has-been trainer…) and a well-worn story arc. Although his character’s a simple short-tempered meat-head Gyllenhaal puts in another sterling shift (talk about a hot streak); the rest of the cast are definitely supporting roles. You’ve seen everything in Southpaw before, but with a bit of emotion and some strong storytelling Fuqua and The Weinsteins deliver a solid – if unremarkable – boxing picture.
Escape Plan: a security expert that escapes from prisons for a living is betrayed and put in an ‘INESCAPABLE’ prison – which he has to team up with Arnie to escape from. Inescapable FAIL. Even as a huge fan of ‘supercheese’, I’ve had enough of these Stallone vanity projects in which he portrays himself as a super-human, super-intelligent (has he heard himself speak?) super-cool guy that women just want to bang 24/7. You’re past you’re prime, and an average actor at best – so please stop these dude! For a no-brainer action flick about a prison-break starring two action legends it’s at least 30 minutes too long, (far too much backstory) and feels around 3 hours long. The only time it comes to life is when Arnie is on the screen – peaking in “Arnie firing a massive gun at dozens of guards and exploding shit”, and “Arnie losing his shit, in German” scenes. The director’s vision of a futuristic jail was cool (touch of Face/Off); the guards sufficiently evil-looking (touch of 300); and the main villain was suitably theatrical (touch of ridiculousness). It feels like Stallone insisted on having far too many ego-massaging, but wholly unnecessary, boring scenes into what should have been a 90-minute brain-free, action-laden, danger-zone, and Arnie’s left save this cliffhanger from falling into the pits of terribility.