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Neil Genzlinger’s “Anything Goes” Is Slight but Outta Sight

In response to Neil Genzlinger’s 250‑word review of Escape Plan on New York Times 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/movies/schwarzenegger-and-stallone-star-in-escape-plan.html?smid=tw-nytmovies&seid=auto

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Neil Genzlinger’s politically charged “Behind Bars, Where Anything Goes: Schwarzenegger and Stallone Star in ‘Escape Plan’” reaches for subtext in a slender review that manages to say a whole lot.

Indeed, the review-in-brief has been a popular choice in this Escape Plan season, but execution is critical, and Genzlinger offers a fresh take in an exploration of politics, interesting given the machismo of his critique’s object.

Guantánamo Bay shows up early in Anything Goes, and its presence casts a shadow that looms over the rest of the work. It’s ultimately a light, quippy work, but its interest in delivering sinister scenes makes it a different animal than reviews that seem of its sort at a glance.

To-the-point analysis appears at the end of the work, cast in shades of gray and a hint of dismissiveness. The effect is a tad unsettling—it takes readers out of the moment—but compelling in light of the first act of Anything Goes.

And indeed, the presence of extraordinary rendition and advanced interrogation reappears in the thrilling postscript to the work, which reminds readers to play it safe, “because prison is a violent, bloody, foulmouthed place.”

A chilling bookend, no doubt; and again, it’s not particularly the take readers will expect. Catching audiences delightfully off-guard is the charm of Genzlinger’s Anything Goes, which absolutely thrills.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation