Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)

In 1997, America is all fucked up and the crime rate is so high the government has converted Manhattan into a prison, complete with guarded 50 foot high walls around the perimeter. There are no rules. The cops just dump the prisoners and split. They don't care what happens as long as it stays inside...but all of that changes when, thanks to some terrorists, Air Force One carrying President Donald Pleasence crashes inside.

The coppers go in to get him, but only find his empty escape pod. The inmates have taken him hostage and instruct them to leave or the President dies. Plan B: convince soon-to-be-transported-to-Manhattan prisoner and ex-special forces soldier "Snake" Plissken to go in and save the President (and a super important cassette tape that he's carrying) within 24 hours. How do they convince him? By placing explosives inside of his neck.  That'll do it.

So anyway Snake goes in and...it's kinda boring. He walks around a lot and talks to some people. Eventually he punches some punks, gets captured and forced to fight a giant dude with a spiked baseball bat, but even that is boring cause the fight is only like two minutes long.  More talking and more running around happens until Snake finally a hold of the President.  Now he must escape from New York.

I've heard tons of hype about this movie being totally badass.  I can see how the idea for this movie is awesome, but the reality of it isn't all that great. It's pretty boring and considering how it came out the same year as THE ROAD WARRIOR it doesn't doesn't have any excuse not to be badass.  I'm sure all kinds of fanboys are vomiting tears and punching their computers right now, but it's true. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK is not action-packed and it looks pretty goddamn cheap.

Worth a watch once just to see what all the hype is about, but I can't imagine wanting to watch it multiple times. Very little violence, no gore, very little tension, zero nudity (unless you count Kurt Russell's nipples or that extremely quick scene in the theater), impressive cast including some uncredited voice acting by Jamie Lee Curtis as the narrator / computer, a gun equipped with a silencer making a lot of noise, a Cadillac with chandeliers on the hood, dated as fuck special effects, important information being carried on a cassette tape despite it being 1997.

If you need me, I'll be in my room watching the next Carpenter-Russell collaboration instead...THE THING.  Or maybe re-reading that escape the store chapter from Robert McCammon's "Swan Song".

Part 2 - Escape From L.A.