Its amazing how many movies I have seen, but even more stunning how many “Classics” I have not seen, and Escape from NY is one of the latter group. I wonder why Kurt Russell isn’t in one of the Expendables movies yet. I do kinda wonder why Kurt Russell isn’t one of the Iconic action stars, maybe watching this movie will answer those questions.
Crime has exploded in the US during the 80s, and in 1988 New York is hit by a natural disaster, and rather than rebuild the city, the US decides to make it a maximum security prison, for everyone nailed with a life sentence. Or in other words, they have made New York City the State of Georgia or Australia back in the day. You do have the option to have assisted suicide, just in case you don’t want to go. Manhattan itself has a 50 foot wall around it, the Hudson river is patrolled and all the bridges and tunnels have either been mined or destroyed.
I do wonder how people on the Island get food and water. Its not like you can fish the river, and as far as I know, there are no natural springs left in Manhattan. I can see the process with what England did, since you can hunt and all that good stuff- but other than the Zoo, where are you getting food? Since the bridge is mined, not like they stampeding buffalo across it on a regular basis.
All is not lost, however, as there is peace finally in WWIII as there is a three way treaty between the US, USSR and China. On the way back, Air Force One has been hijacked, and since Harrison Ford isn’t the president, its crashed in the middle of NYC. Maybe that guy splashed it in the Hudson again? The President is captured and the “Duke of New York” has given the US Gov’t 24 hours to allow them to leave, or he will shoot the President.
I do wonder why he couldn’t be bought out. Not like taking 20 of them to Cuba or even Jersey would be a bad thing.
So in a plot that Sean Connery would swipe for “The Rock” many years later, Snake Plissken is told that if he saves the President, with a speech he has to deliver within 24 hours, he will get a full pardon. If he tries to run, or fail, then microscopic explosives he has been injected with will explode. If Snake succeeds, then X-Rays will disable the explosives. …..ok.
So Snake is dumped in New York, and meets Ernest Borgnine who is playing a cabbie, and superfan of Snake, and Harry Dean Stanton who is an old cohort of Snake, who is basically OPEC here. Stanton is called Brain, just for fun- but his girlfriend is that woman from Swamp Thing! Cool! So our foursome is off to meet the Wizard, er Duke of New York, who is wanting to use the President to cross the Bridge and escape . . to Jersey.
So Far this is a pretty fast moving movie, and enough light bits to keep it moving from place to place. Ignore the stupid setup and its a fun ride. Snake is an interesting character, but after a bit he starts to grate on me. He just is trying to be all HARDCORE and it takes away from the movie. I mean, you are on an island full of criminals, and you just reject help? I could see it if you have time, but he’s ex-special forces, its not like he’s not used to working with a team at all.
I have major problems with some of the plot. If Snake just does nothing, then the plan fails. If Snake gets the president, then the plan fails. If he just gets the cassette, why care about anything else, I would think he could just leave with the cassette and then the Duke would leave him alone since he still has the President. Snake doesn’t care about anything else.
And the tape? Really? A Frikken CASSETTE TAPE? No Paper backup? No digital download? Plus why mine the bridge? Everything gets flown in, why not just blow it up? Sure do seem to be a lot of weapons left in New York. I’m no expert, but I almost think you could drop a few building and make a bridge, or maybe cause enough commotion that you could escape. I mean I understand it’s NYC, but you could undercut a couple and see what happens.
Part of the issue is way too many characters die in just stupid ways. Why would you want a mindless rabble doing nothing but taking up limited resources? How are you getting bullets? You would think after a bit NYC would be down to Swords and Spears with only the main people having ammunition.
So overall? Its a classic, and I can kinda see why. But Kurt Russell is better off when he’s playing the everyman that has to go badass, then a badass for years. The Script needed a rewrite, and as much as Carpenter gets love, and deservedly so, it has some major flaws. It seems like as I get older, I have more and more problems with Carpenter. I just don’t think this is a good film. Its not horrible, but is it worth going out of your way to watch it? Not really. Sorry. I’m going with a 3 here. It just doesn’t have enough going for it to make it worth seeking out. The problem is, once you see it, its kind of memorable. Parts of it you do think are pretty good, and that’s a big part of Carpenter, but when you watch it again, there is a lot of waiting for the good parts. let me bump it to 4.
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