CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Painting a dismal, desolate & decaying portrait of New York City from mere scraps of filmmaking materials, John Carpenter's Escape from New York brings its brilliantly imagined dystopian future to cinematic life in a smooth & efficient manner, and is also notable for creating one of the coolest badass characters to grace the film screen.
Set in the then near-future of 1997, Escape from New York shows Manhattan Island as a maximum security prison in the crime-infested United States. The plot follows Snake Plissken, an ex-soldier & convicted felon who's asked to rescue the US President & his precious cargo from the deserted land within 24 hours in exchange for full amnesty.
Co-written & directed by John Carpenter (best known for Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween & The Thing), it's amazing just how authentic the dystopian environment looks despite being filmed on a shoestring budget. The premise follows a simple A to B route but it's the little details & characters that make the whole film enriching on so many levels.
Set pieces are wonderfully detailed. Cinematography encapsulates the picture with a dark & bleak atmosphere and manoeuvres the camera in a controlled fashion. Editing keeps the plot moving at all times although there were a couple of moments that felt unnecessary to the narrative. And lastly, Carpenter contributes with a fitting score that ranks amongst his finest compositions.
Coming to the performances, Escape from New York packs a formidable cast in Kurt Russell & Lee Van Cleef, with Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton & others in supporting roles. Exuding a high level of badassery & coolness, Russell delivers a fantastic performance as Snake Plissken and it remains one of his most memorable roles to date. Van Cleef isn't far behind & plays his part with panache.
On an overall scale, Escape from New York is a thoroughly captivating, consistently entertaining & sufficiently satisfying effort from John Carpenter, and is another quality addition to his filmography. Oozing with a raw style, not devoid of substance & benefiting from Kurt Russell's strong input, it's an expertly crafted & skilfully directed dystopian sci-fi actioner that has aged well over the years, and is absolutely worthy of your time & money.