Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★

I feel like ESCAPE FROM NY is one of those films where the supporting elements work better than what's in the forefront. Kurt Russell is adequate as a Rambo-like action hero of few words and the high-concept premise is so bare-bones that you spend most of the first half-hour just waiting for things to get moving.

Fortunately, once Snake actually gets dropped into Manhattan, the film's pace picks up tremendously. This is due mostly to the talent of the supporting cast. Isaac Hayes makes for a fun villain, Donald Pleasence leaves a strong presence as President MacGuffin, and we build a nice dynamic among our team of anti-heroes, with Ernest Borgnine and Adrienne Barbeau playing colorful characters.

And thank the Lord for Harry Dean Stanton! Truly one of those actors who always elevated the material of everything he was ever in and had such a distinct face and voice to always be interesting. Here he plays the character with the biggest arc and the most nuance, basically the Lando Calrissian of this story.

John Carpenter is good at building spectacle, even though the New York he depicts here feels considerably small-scale. For an island-wide prison, you expect larger scenes of mass chaos. The movie delivers on the basic thrills you'd expect for the genre, but never reaches its full potential.

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