Escape Plan

all_rating

Escape Plan
swan_very_good
Runtime 110 minutes.
Not for children.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in “Escape Plan.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in “Escape Plan.”

Old guys Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger acquit themselves admirably in this brutal thriller about escape from what seems to be an impossibly secure prison, headed by warden Jim Caviezel. What’s unfortunate is that director Mikael Håfström inserts absurdly violent torture and fights in which the victims irresponsibly are shown suffering little or no lasting damage, looking unmarked and movie-star coifed in the very next scenes, after suffering blows that would kill any ordinary mortal, or at least put him in the hospital for many months. Despite this, the story provides good escapist tension.

The supporting cast is quite good for a movie like this, highlighted by another fine performance by Sam Neill, who has yet to disappoint me. But movies like this live or die by the action and number of bullets spraying all over the place and the stunts. The bullets and stunts don’t really occur until the climax that strains credulity to the breaking point, even including what are becoming the obligatory shots of the star hanging on a rope ladder to a helicopter flying away but shooting and hitting the bad guys.

It’s regrettable that a movie that had built quite a bit of credibility stoops to such a hackneyed ending. But that’s not enough to ruin the evening. This is an entertaining couple of hours.

Kill Your Darlings
swan_bottom_of_the_barrel
Runtime 100 minutes.
Not for children.

Michael C. Hall and Daniel Radcliffe in “Kill Your Darlings.”

Michael C. Hall and Daniel Radcliffe in “Kill Your Darlings.”

Pardon me if I do not genuflect at the altar of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. If I had to quantify my interest in either of these people, it would be close to, or below, zero.

This is a film about the people who defined the Beat Generation, a group of writers influenced by Eastern philosophy and religion and known especially for their use of nontraditional forms and their rejection of conventional social values, that is based on a murder (or homicide) that occurred when Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) was a nervous, overly strict with himself freshman attending Columbia University in 1944.

There, according to this film, anyway, he was emotionally seduced by bohemian Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and imposed into Carr’s dissolute lifestyle that involved drugs and homosexuality. Carr is involved with David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), who pursues him voraciously. Later he becomes involved with Kerouac (Jack Huston), a former college football running back who had lasted only 8 days in the U.S. Navy. The other person involved in this group of libertines was medical school drop-out, former door-to-door insect exterminator, and drug addict aborning, William Burroughs (Ben Foster). Burroughs was the oldest, at 29 while Ginsburg was only 18. All were to become famous or notorious, depending on your POV.

Radcliffe is best known as the star of the Harry Potter movies. I didn’t read those books and walked out of the only two movies I attended when I couldn’t take any more of the phantasmagorical nonsense, after enduring almost two hours of the tortuous stories. This one is no better, although it is a lot shorter, which allowed me to remain until the end.

With abundant, explicit gay sex scenes, the film is inspired by the murder that occurs near the end of the film. Up until then it is a tangle of talk that is marked by how uninvolving it all is unless you buy the credibility of the fame of these people. As more time passes, their meager accomplishments are outweighed by their controversial lifestyles.

It is produced, directed and co-written (with Austin Bunn) by John Krokidas, who has a style of quick cuts and time warping jumps that is more annoying than entertaining. As with most films “based on” a true story the only interesting part of the movie came before the end credits when graphics indicate what really happened to the characters.

I still didn’t care.

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