Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★½

Incredibly moody and atmospheric for something so seemingly silly, though not in such a way that it undercuts the essential genre fun of a movie with a main character called Snake Plissken who wears an eyepatch. Carpenter manages to make a film that is surprisingly artful in its leanness and genuinely interesting in its social commentary, while also providing a gloriously goofy cast of characters and enough B-movie wackiness to satisfy even the most ravenous camp lovers. He knows exactly how seriously to take all this, never straying into self conscious latter-day superhero movie style pretentiousness while never undercutting his sincerely anti-establishment and even kind of radical themes. I’ll admit that the film does sag a little in the middle for me, where the minimalism goes from riveting to a little sedate, and John Carpenter remains a filmmaker who I admire greatly but still do not quite love for reasons entirely of personal taste. But aside from a slightly over indulgent runtime I’ll admit that this is probably as good as this kind of low budget sci-fi action movie gets, blessed with a great cast, the perfect director for this kind of material, impressive world-building, and a crew who knew how to do the most with the least. It’s maybe not ever going to be a personal favourite of mine, but I’m very glad to have finally sat down with it.

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