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Sci-Fi - Dystopian Future

Escape from New York (1981)

Duration1h 39m
RatingsUK: AA, USA: R, Denmark: 15 
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorJohn Carpenter
Writers/ScriptJohn Carpenter, Nick Castle
StarringKurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.1/10 by 138,787 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 86% by 66 reviewers. Review2view: 7.5/10.

Elevator Pitch: It is 1996 (yes it is) and, due to a massive increase in crime levels, Manhattan has been turned into a prison where criminals a dumped for  life term. The facility is surrounded by a high wall and the bridges are mined. Into this disaster area a plane carrying the president of the United States is wilfully crashed by a renegade pilot. It seems that the president has survived but has been captured and when security arrives they are told he will be killed unless they fly away. In order to rescue him, Hauk the boss of the prison hires Snake Plissken a former special forces soldier, turned bank robber, to go into the prison and recover the president by any means possible, but to ensure his return snake is injected with poison capsules which will kill him if he does not return within 24 hours.  Snake embarks on the mission, one man with a gun, will he survive?

Content: There is no sex, drug taking or drinking but a lot of smoking. When Snake takes his shirt off we see the head of a cobra tattooed on his lower torso, implying the reason for his nickname. Snake lands a glider on top of the World Trade Centre. He makes friends with a cabbie who drives him around, and a scientist, Brain and Brain’s girlfriend, Maggie, who, due to their previous lives, are prepared to help him. There is a lot of running around in the dark streets. Snake and Maggie are the only ones with guns and they use them. Snake is captured and has to engage in a fight to the death. The main opposition, The Duke, drives about in a Cadillac with candelabra on the bonnet. 

A View: The budget for this outing was about $6 million and it returned $25 million at the box office. I feel pretty certain that it now has a cult following, particularly after later DVD and Blue-Ray releases in this century. I have seen it a few times but after viewing it the other day found there was less in it than I had remembered.  Even so quite a lot of fun to see Kurt Russell take on Snake’s persona, one which I don’t think he has ever dropped. So worth a view for some pre-CGI fun.

Kurt Russell has an impressive body of work, and some of his films have been reviewed on this site, including: The Hateful Eight, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Death Proof. (I have realised after choosing them that they are all Tarantino oeuvres.)

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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