Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★★

52 Years In 52 Weeks: 2021 Edition

18. 1981

This being a direct source of inspiration for Metal Gear Solid is really all the reason you will ever need to give it the full 5 star rating. The delicious synth soundtrack, ridiculously stacked lineup of acting talent, impeccable set designs and intriguing world building are all just neat bonuses.

In a distressed future, the whole Manhattan area has been turned into a max security prison meant for the nastiest of prisoners. It just so happens that a plane is hijacked and crashes right into the midst of this prison. And the president happens to be on that plane! With the president being needed for an urgent peace summit, people are in a panic to get him out of that hellhole. A manly man by the name of Snake Plissken is forced on a one-man rescue mission, despite his total lack of interest in the president's safety. To keep him under check, Snake is injected with an explosive compound that will fucking destroy his main arteries if he doesn't rescue the president in time. It's a race against the clock, with hostile crime lords and unhinged sewer dwellers standing in the way.

I fucking love how this film looks. Every shadow that is cast within the nasty streets of Manhattan feels as if it was placed with point precision. And all the fucking smog that creeps out from the manholes, it's like some post-apocalyptic version of the foggy moors from the gothic horror tradition. And those fucking set designs! It's remarkable how only one short scene in this whole film was actually shot in New York, it's equally incredible to think about the miniature sets that were used to show the city from a distance. And then you add the signature Carpenter soundtrack to the mix, and love is in the polluted air.

And what about the cast. It's hard to imagine that people were actually scoffing at the idea of Kurt Russel as an action hero (he was mostly known for his work with Disney at the time) back in 1981, because he is so fucking flawless and cool as Snake. We don't even see him doing all that much, but are you gonna fucking doubt that eye-patched and perpetually smoking badass when he says that he has seen some fucking shit in his days? And how weaselly is Lee Van Cleef as the police commissioner? How cool is Isaac Hayes as the Duke of New York? How delightfully pathetic is Donald Pleasance as the President in distress? How lovable is Ernest Borgnine as the Cabbie with his reliable vehicle at hand? This whole cast is just one big chef's kiss.

Perfect! Flawless! Amazing! If there is one action film to define the 80s this may as well be it. The fact that it has influenced tons and tons of amazing video games, cartoons and more should be all the reason you need to know that this is the real fucking deal.

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