AR: Thank you for coming to chat with me John. To kick start this off I would love to say Escape Plan 3 was awesome!!
JH: Thank you Jeff.
AR: Before signing on to direct the third entry in the franchise, had you watched the previous entries?
JH: Well I had saw the first Escape Plan and I liked that alot, I thought that as a fun and entertaining movie. But I had not seen part two.
AR: Did having Miles Chapman on board who had wrote the previous ones, help you get the feel for the characters and universe?
JH: Well you know I worked very closely with Sly. He had asked me if I wanted to do this and I was thrilled. Sly and I talked about changing the tone of the movie compared to one and two and going more gritty, hard-core action-adventure. We wanted to step away from the Sci-Fi tone.
I really wanted to excentuate fights too, Sly and I crafted out how we wanted the physical action and that was a strong component too. We wanted to make this more of a sequel to the original movie and have the revenge aspect which is something that Sly wanted to do.
AR: I had seen Sly post on social media that he wasn’t impressed with the second movie, making this a sequel to the original was the right course
JH: Yeah Sly was unhappy with the part two and that’s how I came aboard as me and Sly go way back and he asked me if I was interested. He wanted this movie to be down and dirty. Like that fight of his at the end.
AR: The action scenes in this movie had such an old school feel of the 80’s/90’s era…
JH: THANK YOU!! I can’t believe you’re saying that. That was exactly what we were going for.
AR: Well it came through completely, I love the old school action movies so for me it was a complete throwback
JH: Just capitalising on what you just said, there is no green screen or no slow motion shots, no sped up shots. The violence and the fights, I wanted them all to be wide shots so you could see the actors were really doing what they were doing, there’s no throwing a punch and then having a close up of the guy reacting. I was blessed with everybody in that movie that can bring it. Sly can certainly bring it, then you have Bautista, Max Zhang, Harry, Devon. They all bought it.
AR: The tunnel scene towards the end was awesome, it was very old school. It was like Sly was channeling Rambo
JH: Yes exactly, he would say to me this is more Rambo territory rather than Escape Plan but he really wanted to use his physicality. I mean the guy he fought was 6/7ft, we really wanted this to be physical.
AR: Having Max Zhang who is making a name for himself in the genre, especially with the recent IP Man spin off go toe to toe with an old school legend Mr. Daniel Bernhardt was truly awesome to watch on screen
JH: THANK YOU!
AR: Did the fight take long to choreograph?
JH: No seriously, are you ready for this? This is wild! Nobody knows this. They rehearsed they went over co-ordination, I was very specific. It was around noon and Daniel threw a great kick and he pulled his hamstring. We were done for the day. I said “What we gonna do”?
Because it was based on kicking and just as movies are very organic and very fluid Daniel being THE GREAT martial artist he is came back the next morning iced it up and said okay guys let’s go. He done the whole thing on a pulled hamstring, but we had to change up the whole fight itself at the last minute.
I’m glad you liked it.
AR: The movie itself was like a mini Expendables
JH: ‘Laughs‘ I’ll take that! Thank you! I like that
AR: As for Escape Plan as a franchise is this the final part?
JH: I hope not. It depends on the powers that be. I know Sly and Dave would love to get another one going and so would I. Keep the same tone. I hope the audience love this one as I would love to do another one. I had a really great time making this movie.
AR: Lets hope there is another entry, you can really see the blood, sweat and tears put into the movie
JH: We shot the movie all at night at Mansfield Prison. It was two hundred thousand square feet. It had two or three men in a 7x9ft cell. The fight at the end with Sly is all in a real cell, in that tiny place. It was so spooky there. You know some crew members thought they saw a ghost and were a little freaked out. There were parts of the prison known to have had people get tortured or die there. They actually do ghost tours. It added to the energy.
Our crew was wonderful!!
AR: It was a great movie and all the effort shows on screen and I really hope and look forward to an Escape Plan 4!!
JH: Thank you so much, I really appreciate that!! It was a pleasure talking to you.
AR: You too John!