Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★

Unkempt dirty blonde hair and rough stubble grown on his face. A patch over one eye and a cold stare lodged on the other. Brown leather jacket covering beefy arms, khaki leggings and big black boots. You know who I'm talking about; Snake Plissken. Certified bad-ass.

From the late 70s through the 1980s, John Carpenter was one of the most talented voices in cinema and he had a particular eye for science fiction and creating striking visions of the future. Arguably the peak of his considerable filmography, Escape From New York is set 16 years into the future (or 16 years in the past from today's perspective) and deals with a world where the iconic island of Manhattan has become an inescapable state prison.

The President of the United States is flying to an important meeting when his plane is hijacked and he becomes a hostage in the city-wide prison. Sent in to rescue him is Snake (Kurt Russell), who gets aid from numerous eccentric characters, from police commissioner Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) to Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) to Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) and must face off against the self proclaimed Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes).

Carpenter utilizes the idea of a desecrated New York turned prison to it's full advantage. The production design is immaculate. The streets are in ruin; litter everywhere, crushed cars, vandalized walls, smashed windows, deserted buildings, dark alleyways... It's a hyper-exaggeration of the crime infested New York City of the 1970s.

It's full of cheesy dialogue but this is superior to a lot of trashy 80s action bonanzas with its astute commentary on crime, the politicians who make the decisions. Above all, its an exhilarating and dark science fiction thriller set in a nightmarish dystopia.

Jack liked this review