Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Escape From New York (1981)

Continuing to catch up with Mr. Carpenter here. I’d seen this film a long time ago and fell in love with it. But for some reason, it fell off my radar over the years. Truth was I was a little afraid to revisit it, afraid it wouldn’t be as much fun as I remembered.

In the distant future (the 1990s according to the film) New York City is one huge prison, while the rest of the US is pretty much a police state. On his way to a vital summit meeting the President (Donald Pleasence) crashes in the middle of the city. The military, lead by the cunning Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) is unable to extract him, so they come up with a brilliant plan B. Send in Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), one of the most dangerous criminals around, and an ex-special forces soldier in to save the man. Plissken accepts (on pain of death) and finds himself in a dangerous world of gangsters, cannibals and gladiatorial games. Can our anti-hero survive long enough to accomplish his mission? Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau and Ernest Borgnine round out the cast.

Good Points:
  • Kurt Russell is the ultimate bad ass
  • Carpenter creates a solid atmosphere in this movie
  • The whole cast goes for broke

Bad Points:
  • The first twenty minutes of set up take a little too long
  • Some of Carpenter’s music is going to induce chuckles
  • I actually know some people who dislike the ending 

I still had a great time with this movie. Carpenter does a great job creating an excellent self-contained world that is very believable. But the main reason this movie works is Russell who makes Snake Plissken the toughest hard ass of 1981. You want the movie to keep going, just so he can kick more ass. Its easy to see why so many movies were inspired by this flick (including really bad knockoffs like Warrior of the Lost World). This movie is well worth checking out for action fans.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 4
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 3
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. "Call me Snake." Oh dear, this is one silly movie, but I can't deny it offers some fun if you just accept it as that.

  2. Yeah it's a silly one, but so much fun to watch. I've heard the argument that Carpenter is better with action films than horror films, and this movie is usually used as proof (and "Big Trouble in Little China" is also a blast).