Stanley Scorsese’s review published on Letterboxd:
While we’re relieved that 2020 is coming to an end, I’d like to look back at the times we’ve had. Nah, screw that! I’ve had enough of this year! Let’s have some beers and watch Escape from New York!
Escape from New York is set in the future where Manhattan is a maximum security prison, and focuses on a prisoner being sent to rescue the American President after his plane was hijacked by terrorists and crashes into the forbidden city.
Today’s the day, guys! We are at the end of 2020 with a big middle finger to all the bullshit we dealt with! Whether it was about the death of Kobe Bryant, the COVID-19 pandemic, the country being shutdown, racist ideologies, and the asinine political race for the American Presidency. Beside the fact that I married my amazingly beautiful wife. Well, I know I’m happy that this year is coming to an end! Maybe 2021 won’t be so terrible.
I remember watching Escape from New York when I was in a John Carpenter phase, and I first thought it was good but not great. But after wanting to see it again, I told my wife to get it for me on Blu-ray for Christmas. This was the Scream Factory edition, so I’m glad she got it. But after playing some NBA 2k20 with my wife, we both went to bed where we both watched the movie. Of course, she wasn’t feeling it because she isn’t into the “oldies but goodies”, so it didn’t hurt my feelings that she fell asleep, because I like being up watching what I want while she’s asleep. After watching it again for the first time in years, my viewing experience changed my mind on what I thought about it. It’s not great. It’s fantastic!
I’m going to start with my positives. The cast is incredible! You got an awesome cast of actors like Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Tom Adkins, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton! Russell plays Snake Plissken, a former soldier and prisoner who goes into the lost city of the Big Apple to find the President in 24 hours. And if he succeeds, he will get a pardon for every illegal act he committed in America. Back when the film had a financed backer, AVCO Embassy wanted Charles Bronson or Tommy Lee Jones. I like those actors, and I would like to see a screen test for those 2 guys. But neither could replace Russell for bringing Snake Plissken to life! Van Cleef was an awesome choice to play the police commissioner Bob Hauk, Borgnine plays Cabbie, Pleasence plays American President John Harker, and Hayes, the soul singer who played Chef in South Park, plays the crime boss The Duke. My God, all of these actors had given such awesome and memorable performances in this action flick!
Carpenter himself has made such a great classic sci-fi action flick! He wrote the original script to Escape from New York in the aftermath of Nixon’s Watergate scandal while also inspired by the movie Death Wish. No studio would buy it because it was “too violent, scary and weird.” Nothing like that didn’t stop him from making Halloween. But of course, like Halloween, some independent film company came to finance the film. The cast and crew shot some of the film in New York, and then Los Angeles, and then Atlanta. For a film to go from city to city, it had to be some movie to have awesome production design to add the atmospheric setting.
I can’t forget about the music Carpenter used in his film. As much as I love the music in all of his films, Escape from New York has the best film score in Carpenter’s filmography! From the signature score from the opening and closing credits, to the scene where The Duke is driving around the city. I loved the practical effects that were used. At night, you can’t tell that it was noticeable! It was basically the same who did the special effects for The Terminator. The crew used miniature models of New York City for the exterior shots, and it was creative and pretty cool. CGI can kiss my ass, I want movies using practical effects!
Here’s what I have mixed feelings about the movie. The movie does take its time when it gets in depth into the rescue mission, and I like that. But it was wanting me to say, “Get to the point, already! The suspense is killing me!” I loved every scene that is in it, but I have to give my own opinion. It was a little slow, it was taking its time, and I wanted to see a lot of action. But this was my second time seeing the film, so time will tell when it grows on me.
Escape from New York is a classic ‘80s action flick, but it’s not an all time John Carpenter favorite of mine like The Thing. Granted, this film fits up with his classics like The Thing, Halloween, and They Live. But this is a 3 for me in my ranking list. Does that mean I don’t want to see it again in the future? Of course not. If any of you are in a John Carpenter phase and are getting into his filmography, I recommend checking this out on Blu-ray from the Scream Factory! Or stream it on Amazon Prime if you don’t like spending money. Before I end this review, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year! Let’s all hope to God we have a better future.
I’m giving Escape from New York 4 stars!