The idea of a movie co-starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger had been discussed between the two men for many years, as far back as the mid-1980s. Different scripts had been pitched or written, but Schwarzenegger said his and Stallone's schedules were not able to match up. Schwarzenegger's exit as governor and his cameo appearance in Stallone's The Expendables (2010) prompted the two of them to revisit the idea of working together in both this movie and The Expendables 2 (2012).
During filming on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a military convention caused streams of uniformed soldiers and Marines to accidentally stumble onto the set. When the crew began to clear the set for the shoot, Sylvester Stallone made a point to stop and pose for pictures with multiple men and women in uniform.
The passage that Rottmayer quotes in German is the Parable of the Madman from "The Gay Science" by Friedrich Nietzsche, making this film one of less than a handful of films in which Arnold Schwarzenegger is heard speaking in his native language.
(At around 63 mins) Abigail is seen at Breslin's desk. On this desk are a few puzzle-like models, one of which appears to depict the structure of the infamous "super-chip" from Cyberdyne Systems as shown in the Terminator movies, which Arnold Schwarzenegger was in.
The German dubbing studio decided to recast the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger with Ralph Schicha (who used a slight Austrian accent which adds a little extra fun for German audiences (since Danneberg normally dubs Schwarzenegger in Standard German)). The reason for this was that Thomas Danneberg, who normally dubs Schwarzenegger, is also the German dubbing voice of Sylvester Stallone. It was feared that the same voice for two actors might confuse audiences. However, some fans did not like the decision and pleaded for a new dubbing which was ultimately denied by the German licensee Concorde.
Miles Chapman's original script had called for the electronic keypad to be on the inside of the solitary cell at the Bendwater prison in Colorado. While storyboarding the film's opening sequence, the filmmakers realized that this was a mistake and the keypad was relocated to the outside of the cell.
The bulk of the page of the Bible that Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is seen burning at the beginning of the film says, "6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.". This is Jeremiah 15:6 of the King James Bible.
When Faran Tahir's character (Javed) says "God is Great" Jim Caviezel character (Hobbes) replies with "Eh, Whatever". This is a possible reference to Jim Caviezel's role as "Jesus Christ" in The Passion of the Christ (2004).
Arnold Schwarzenegger was the original choice for John Brennick in the futuristic prison flick Fortress (1992), but Schwarzenegger turned the role down and the role was given to Christopher Lambert. Fortress (1992) was considered to be a futuristic remake of the prison flick Lock Up (1989) starring Sylvester Stallone.
In Stallone's previous film, Bullet To The Head, his partner comments that there was not enough evidence to court Marshall him for selling C4 on the black market, as is on Stallone's police file. In Escape Plan, his characters' alias in the prison is there for manufacturing bombs used in acts of terrorism.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
While filming Arnold Schwarzenegger's scenes in the helicopter, director Mikael Håfström asked writer Miles Chapman to add a line for Rottmayer after the explosion on the ship. Chapman realized that earlier in the film Warden Hobbes had said "Have a lovely day, Mr. Rottmayer." Chapman then added the line "Have a lovely day, asshole" for Rottmayer. Chapman said he has received requests from fans to come up with a t-shirt with the line "Have a lovely day, asshole" on it.
Sylvester Stallone's last day on set was spent filming the scene in which his character Ray Breslin surfaces in the ocean and signals to the helicopter. Stallone had pulled his right bicep muscle the previous day and was unable to use his right arm. This is why he waves to the helicopter and starts to climb the rope ladder with his left arm.
The cargo ship converted to a prison in this movie is Rican, IMO number 7621932. This can be seen in the scenes from the engine room towards the end of the movie. In the movie they have actually doubled the beam of the ship, making two rows of cargo holds and when widening the superstructure, they have left the wheelhouse off center and original size. The ship was scrapped after the filming in Alang, India.
The message Dr. Kyrie (Sam Neill) is seen sending out is, "I need you in 24 hrs 30 degrees 22(n), 23 degrees 6(w) 5:00 pm sharp tomorrow BBQ and pool party. Don't forget to tell the kids bring all the toys! - Rottmayer".
After Abigail (Amy Ryan) and Hush (50 Cent) decoded the message that Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) sent out from Bendwater Federal Penitentiary toward the beginning of the film, it said, "SEPTEMBER NINE FIRE FRONT LOT 4 PM".
Steven E. De Souza stated the Commando 2 script for Arnold Schwarzenegger was a lot like this film, (and not Die Hard (1988)) even though it was set in a building with security and bad guys, etc. Coincidentally, Arnold and Sly were considered to play John McClane in Die Hard (1988), but they turned it down and it went to their pal, Planet Hollywood co-founder and Expendables (2010) co-star Bruce Willis, who was considered for Stallone's role in this film.
Just like in First Blood (1982), there is a scene where Stallone and his guard are going to the cell. In First Blood (1982), they first have to take stairs to reach it. But in both movies the door is at their left side, and the keypad is also at the left, but in First Blood (1982), it is mounted much higher. A lot of the same body language is used by Stallone in both movies when he is pushed around by the guard.