The film premiered in the Philippines on October 9, 2013, and was released on October 18, 2013, in U.S. theaters. The film earned $137.3 million worldwide against a $50 million budget.
Ray Breslin is a former prosecutor who co-owns Breslin-Clark, a Los Angeles–based security firm specializing in testing the reliability of maximum security prisons. He spends his life getting into prisons to study their designs and the guards' habits to find and exploit their weaknesses, thus enabling him to escape without a hitch or a victim. His goal is to ensure that criminals sent to prison stay inside by eliminating the weakness of every prison; Breslin's wife and child were murdered by an escaped convict he had successfully prosecuted.
Breslin and his business partner Lester Clark are offered a multimillion-dollar deal by CIA agent Jessica Mayer to test a top-secret, off-grid prison housing disappeared persons and see if it is escape-proof. However, this time around, he and his colleagues are not allowed to know where the prison is, as this helps minimize the risk of outside help when escaping. Breslin goes against all his own rules and agrees to the deal, allowing himself to be captured in New Orleans, Louisiana, under the guise of a Spanish terrorist named "Anthony Portos." However, the plan goes awry when his captors remove a tracking microchip from his arm and drug him on the way to the prison, which stops his colleagues from knowing where he has been taken.
Breslin wakes up in a complex of glass cells with no outside windows to indicate the prison's location. He discovers that he has been played when he realizes the warden is not the one he is supposed to meet. He meets fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer, who works for a man named Victor Mannheim who is portrayed as a modern-day Robin Hood. The duo stage a fight for Breslin to study the solitary confinement cell, which uses high-powered halogen lights to disorient and dehydrate prisoners. Seeing that the cell floors have rivets are made of steel instead of moisture-resistant aluminium, Breslin has Rottmayer acquire a metal plate from Warden Hobbes's office floor before the two of them and Muslim inmate Javed are once again thrown into confinement. Using the metal plate, Breslin focuses the reflection from the lights to heat the steel around the rivets, shearing the rivets when the steel expands, and pops open the floor panel to reveal a passageway below. He discovers that the prison is inside a super freighter cargo ship in the middle of the ocean, making a simple escape impossible. Breslin and Rottmayer continue to study the complex by learning the guards' daily routines. However, Hobbes reveals to Breslin that he is aware of his identity, and with chief security officer Drake watching him, he wants to ensure that Breslin spends the rest of his life in prison. Breslin offers Hobbes information on Mannheim from Rottmayer in exchange for being released; Hobbes agrees.
Breslin feeds Hobbes false information about Mannheim. Meanwhile, Breslin's colleagues Abigail Ross and Hush grow suspicious of Clark when Breslin's paycheck for the job is frozen. They discover from hacked documents that the prison, codenamed "The Tomb," is owned by a for-profit organization linked to a privately owned security provider. Meanwhile, Clark is in contact with Hobbes about keeping Breslin imprisoned. Rottmayer has Javed convince Hobbes that he is double crossing them, and as payment he only wants to be allowed up on deck to do his nightly prayer. When up on deck, Javed uses a makeshift sextant to get the ship's latitude. Using the latitude and weather, Breslin and Rottmayer deduce that they are in the Atlantic Ocean near Morocco. Breslin visits the infirmary of Dr. Kyrie and convinces him to help him and Rottmayer escape by sending an email to Mannheim. Breslin then transmits a false tap code message from his cell, giving Hobbes the impression that a riot will occur in cell block C. With the majority of the security stationed at cell block C, Javed instigates a riot at cell block A, giving him, Breslin, and Rottmayer time to run toward the deck while a lockdown is initiated. Breslin kills Drake, but Javed is shot dead by Hobbes and his men during their escape. Breslin goes to the engine room to shut down the electrical systems, giving Rottmayer time to open the deck hatch before the backup generators come online while a helicopter sent by Mannheim engages in a gunfight with the ship's crew. Rottmayer boards the helicopter while Breslin is flushed to the bottom of the ship by the automated water system when Hobbes has the main electrical system rebooted. The helicopter picks up Breslin, but when Hobbes starts shooting at them, Breslin kills the warden by shooting and blowing up a group of oil barrels.
They land on a beach in Morocco, where Rottmayer reveals that he is actually Mannheim, Mayer is his daughter, "Portos" was a codeword used to alert Mannheim that Breslin was an ally, and Hobbes was originally unaware that Breslin's cover story was fake. Later, on a Moroccan beach, Ross informs Breslin that they discovered Clark was offered a $5 million annual salary to become CEO of the security company, should Breslin's imprisonment prove that the ship is escape-proof. Clark had fled, but Hush tracked him in Miami, and locked him in a container aboard an MSC cargo ship headed for an unknown destination.
Early reports in 2011 speculated that Bruce Willis was cast as Ray Breslin. It was revealed by producer Mark Canton on The Matthew Aaron Show that Jim Caviezel had signed on to the film, playing the prison warden Hobbes.
British actor Vinnie Jones signed on to co-star. Jones played Drake, the ruthless prison guard.
Variety and other media in the news stated that Amy Ryan, Vincent D'Onofrio, and 50 Cent had joined the cast of Escape Plan. It was confirmed in mid-April that 50 Cent would play the computer expert who was once incarcerated for cyber crimes helping Breslin's character escape, D'Onofrio would play the deputy director of the high-tech prison, and Ryan would play Stallone's business partner and his potential love interest.
In an interview with the British newspaper The Sun, Vinnie Jones stated that the film was to shoot April 16 to June 23 in New Orleans. Shooting for Escape Plan was also confirmed to take place in Louisiana in the spring of 2012. In August 2012, at The Expendables 2 conference, Arnold Schwarzenegger commented on the film and stated that filming had finished.
On April 9, 2013, it was officially announced that the film had been pushed back to a September 13, 2013 release and the film's title had been changed from The Tomb to Escape Plan. It was eventually released on October 18, 2013.
On June 27, 2013, a debut trailer of Escape Plan was released through the gaming website IGN.
The film underperformed at the U.S. box office, debuting at number four on the box office chart with $9.89 million from 2,883 theaters and ultimately grossing only $25.1 million domestically. However, Escape Plan was an international box-office success, debuting at first place in several Asian and European markets, with the total international gross more than doubling its $50 million budget at $112.2 million, totaling up to a worldwide gross of $137.3 million.
Escape Plan was met with mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 49%, based on reviews from 104 critics. The site's critical consensus states: "As much fun as it is to see Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up onscreen, Escape Plan fails to offer much more than a pale imitation of 1980s popcorn thrills." Metacritic gives the film a score of 49 out of 100, based on 33 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Tom Huddleston of Time Out London gave the film two out of five stars, commenting that the film "would have made a perfect vehicle for, say, a Chuck Norris or even a Jean-Claude Van Damme. But these two redoubtable, enormously watchable old-school heroes deserve better." Ben Rawson-Jones of Digital Spy gave the film four out of five stars, commenting that it "defies those who wrote off the abilities of its stars to cut the muscular mustard in today's youth-orientated cultural climate. These supposedly old dogs have plenty of life—but their effectiveness relies on the foundation of a smart script that plays to their strengths and the audience's perception of their star personas." Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said in his review: "Mikael Hafstrom, the director, pushes the suspense buttons efficiently, and the plot twists are disguised well enough for the not-very-demanding crowd this film will draw. The scenes with Mr. Stallone and Mr. Schwarzenegger are a little disappointing — it's their first pairing as top-billed co-stars, yet the script never gives them the kind of memorable exchange that makes fans howl with delight. But all in all, Escape Plan does what it sets out to do."
In February 2017, it was announced that a sequel is currently in development with Stallone confirmed to reprise his role as Ray Breslin. In the same report it was revealed that Steven C. Miller will direct the film, with Miles Chapman returning as screenwriter. Dave Bautista, 50 Cent, and Jaime King have also been cast in the film. In March 2017, the official title was announced as Escape Plan 2: Hades.
In April of 2017, a third film entered the early stages of development with Stallone again signed on to reprise his role as Ray Breslin.