Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Escape from L.A. (1996)

I knew plenty of people who wanted to see Snake Plissken return to the big screen. Escape from New York was such a fun blast of action adventure it seems like it would be a no brainer to return to the character. It took over a decade to finally get everyone back on board and put Snake into a new city, with new dangers and a new objective. The only problem was, “new” wasn’t really on the agenda.

Before you can say “Doh!”, the President of the United States (Cliff Robertson) loses the key to his doomsday weapon, a ring of satellites that can destroy all technology in any specific area he chooses. All because his daughter Utopia (A.J. Langer) falls head of heels for revolutionary Cuervo Jones (George Corraface) and steals the key and heads into Los Angeles. And wouldn’t you know it, L.A. is now an isolated island (thanks to an earthquake) and deportation location for undesirables.

So the powers that be grab Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) to go on a covert mission to retrieve the key, and kill Utopia, who has really disappointed her father. What follows in an action packed romp through L.A. as Snake meets new allies and enemies. Is Map to the Stars Eddie (Steve Buscemi) going to betray him? Will Taslima (Valeria Golino) end up as his girl? Is that really Bruce Campbell under all that make up as the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills? Keep an eye out for appearances by Pam Grier, Peter Fonda and Stacy Keach as our anti-hero attempts to Escape From L.A.

Good Points:
  • Kurt Russell is still the ultimate bad ass
  • The movie keeps it’s pace moving and it’s tone light
  • Contains some solid action scenes

Bad Points:
  • The plot and structure are nearly identical to the original film
  • The satirical tone of the film will annoy some viewers
  • Seems a bit tame compared to the original


You’ve got to approach this movie with the knowledge that it is pretty much a satire of Escape from New York. The edginess, darkness and gritty feel of the previous film are replaced by a wink and nod from the creative team. Everything here is over the top, the action, the humor, and the fact that the movie is pretty much a rehash of the previous film. It’s all part of the joke. You’ll either find this amusing, or kind of stale. Once you realize this, the movie is a blast of pure entertainment. It adds some social commentary to the mix and presents us with a bad ass Snake Plissken again. I’m still on the fence. I would have liked a bit more of an edge in the film, but I can’t say I wasn’t entertained.

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

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


  1. This is one of those “Don’t think too much about the premises” movies. Just let it happen. I enjoyed it at the time. Yet, I’ve never once been struck by the urge to see it again.

    1. Yeah I was in the same boat. But a pal of mine is a huge fan of Carpenter. He really loved the ending of the film, which I only vaguely remembered. So I figured I'd revisit the whole thing. I've come to the conclusion that Kurt Russell is just fun to watch. We revisited "Deathproof" a couple weeks ago and he is a key ingredient in that movie too.

  2. I thought a cool Kurt Russell film was Breakdown. Check it out if you haven't seen it. But as far as Escape from LA goes, I enjoyed it. Yes, it wasn't very original, but I could watch it again. The original was better, but where you going to see them surf through LA like that? Ha.

    1. Yeah the surfing scene was hilarious. I know that really turned a lot of folks off, but by that point the movie wasn't going in a serious direction at all. Even the original had its tongue in cheek moments.

      I've never seen "Breakdown". Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Btw, loved Breakdown. Hated Escape From L.A.. Have a good weekend Roman.

  4. Ah, I have a real love/hate relationship with this film. As a hardcore fan of the original, the sequel is a shadow of its former self. I can see what Carpenter and co. were trying to do - create a remake/sequel hybrid, but that is a tricky balancing act that is hard to pull off with EVIL DEAD 2 and DESPERADO being notable exceptions. Sadly, it feels like the studio influenced the end result a little too much. And I'm sorry, but George Corraface is no Isaac Hayes. What an ineffectual villain! Also, the SFX is at times dodgy and other times really good. Very uneven, which is basically the film in a nutshell.

    1. I gotta agree with you Isaac Hayes was a superior villain. His presence was much more powerful in the original film, and you felt that he was a real danger to Snake. I think casting of Corraface may have been part of the satire, but it is really hard to tell.

      It is an uneven film, but not as bad as other have made it out to be. However if I had to pick one to revisit - "Escape from New York" would win every time.