Today is a great day for movie watching because I am watching one of my favorite cult classics from one of my favorite directors. Anytime that one of John Carpenter’s movies came on TV, I would always find myself watching them. With it’s somewhat post-apocalyptic/dark future tones, Escape From New York always managed to portray a really gritty view of a possible future. So let’s dive on into today’s movie, Escape From New York.
The plot: When the national crime rate hit record highs, the island of Manhattan was evacuated and turned into a maximum security prison where everyone is issued a life sentence. The President is on his way to a conference to try and prevent World War 3 when his plane is hijacked by terrorists and crashes into New York, where he is captured by the self proclaimed “Duke” of New York. In a desperate bid to save the President, the New York police chief offers a deal to former special forces officer turned rebel, Snake Plissken; save the President and recover the tape he was carrying in the next 24 hours, and he will receive a full pardon for all of his crimes. Snake manages to make it into the city but after a series of close calls, finds himself captured by the Duke. Brain, a former ally of Snake manages to rescue the President but plans on saving himself and his girlfriend Maggie and leaving Snake behind. Snake manages to catch up with them and together they all try to get off the island with the Duke hot on their heels. Brain and Maggie are both killed and the President manages to kill the Duke as Snake is making his escape. Snake receives his pardon and the President is preparing to play the tape he had been carrying for the peace conference, but Snake had switched the tape for a different one and as he is leaving, begins unspooling the original tape.
With an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Escape From New York was well received by critics with some saying that it was “a strange, entertaining jumble of thrilling action and oddball weirdness.” Earning over $25 million in the US alone and another $23 million worldwide (estimated), it more than earned it’s $6 million budget back. But it was when it was released on home video that it truly became a cult classic, as well as an influence on generations to come, from video games to other movies.
This is one of my favorite movies from the 80’s Kurt Russell and Isaac Hayes were great in their roles of Snake Plissken and The Duke respectively. Harry Dean Stanton was also good in his portrayal of Brain. The low budget feel to the movie actually helped make it seem darker and grittier than it really was. This wasn’t a non stop action movie as was the norm during the 80’s. Instead, the action was well placed and flowed very well into the non action scenes. The dialogue was decent and did its job of moving the story forward and there was some humor thrown in every now and then to keep things from getting too serious. All in all, this was a great movie and well deserving of it’s cult status.
So if you want to see a look into a possible dark future from the 80’s perspective, then definitely watch this movie.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5