Sylvester Stallone is back to break out of another prison in Escape Plan 3 – here’s our review.

Certificate: 15
Director: John Herzfeld
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Dave Bautista, Curtis Jackson, Jaime King, Max Zhang
Release date: Out now
Reviewer: Ryan Lambie

As the series grinds on, the quality of the prisons descends. In the original Escape Plan (budget: $54m), stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were asked to escape from a high-tech facility on the high seas. In Escape Plan 2 (budget: $20m), the big break-out took place in a cramped jail with flimsy grey walls. Escape Plan 3 (our guess: $32.50) takes a further downgrade, with its prison taking the form of an 19th century warehouse in Belarus. Forget the cool suspended glass cells of the first movie; this prison can barely afford padlocks.

Stallone again appears as Ray Breslin, a freelance prison security expert who, along with his curious assortment of allies – which includes 50 Cent and Dave Bautista in a flat cap – has the task of busting out a telecommunication magnate’s daughter and his own wife-to-be, Abigail (King) from a dank, sparsely populated gulag. As with Escape Plan 2, though, Stallone and his pricier stars play a smaller role here, with the greater percentage of the movie filled with affordable actors who also happen to be proficient in martial arts. Even the villain’s the product of the franchise’s increasing austerity measures; the original Escape Plan got Vincent D’Onofrio; Escape Plan 2 got the always-watchable Titus Welliver; Devon Sawa (who played the title role in 1995’s Casper) does his best here as a thinly sketched criminal mastermind with a vendetta against Breslin and a hatred of Chinese phone companies.

The scenes of martial artistry are athletically performed but few in number and ineptly captured thanks to some soupy digital photography; the rest of the movie’s lean 90-minute duration is taken up by badly lit threats and assorted melodramatics. Escape Plan 3, then, is a muted entry in an unexpectedly enduring series – it’s strange to think Escape Plan got two sequels and counting, while Sly’s Cliffhanger and Cobra to date have received none. With the production values on the slide and Stallone looking increasingly weary, Escape Plan 4 will probably see the ageing star rescue 50 Cent from the boot of a Ford Sierra.