Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★½

"100 Years 100 Movies" list by Lee Towler (44/100)

In recent years I've found myself falling out of love with video games. It used to be my main hobby, spending hours upon hours squashing goombas and koopas - I was quite the hardcore gamer, I know. The reason it got put so far to the side was to make room for my biggest passion; film. It's still my favourite thing, but there's always been a part of me that's wanted to get back into gaming.

One of my all-time favourites were the Metal Gear Solid series, and due to the most recent edition being released next year I might find myself interested in video games again. Back in the day, I say like it was decades ago, I always wanted to see this movie because of how the main character Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) was a huge inspiration for the gaming legend Solid Snake.

It's fair to say the similarities between the characters are hardly blurry. The gruff voice, eyepatch, being sent on an espionage mission, general badassery, legendary statuses and of course, both being named Snake. It was like watching a MGS movie with the influence of John Carpenter and it was great. Kurt Russell is the quintessential badass, or at least was back in his prime with Carpenter. The two collaborating is always a delight and Carpenter consistently gives him great roles to encapsulate his presence.

It feels like the usual John Carpenter affair, being a fan of the director that's never a problem. The dystopian set design, campy characters and gritty science fiction elements have always been his forte and this is a shining example of that. I'd say he perfected the campy silliness in Big Trouble in Little China, science fiction elements in The Thing but in terms of dystopia this is my favourite of his. The movie isn't quite as self aware of what it is as some of his other works, and never quite gets the same level of humour at how ridiculous it can be.

The moments when he enters Manhattan and some of the locations he visits have been a clear influence on other forms of media in terms of set design, and this is where it's at its most entertaining. Accompanied by a soundtrack scored by Carpenter himself which always gives his movies that extra dash of personal flair. It spends a little too much time not being in Manhattan though, and even though that means more Lee Van Cleef - which is nothing to sneer my nose at - it just plods along a little too slowly.

Escape From New York may be one of Carpenter's lesser works, not being as self aware of how far it can push itself into being completely ridiculous. I imagine if I'd seen this before Big Trouble in Little China I'd have loved it a lot more though, but there's plenty of Kurt Russell being badass for it to be worth a watch.