Escape From New York is a film is set in a war torn dystopian future, where the United States has converted Manhattan island into a maximum security prison for the most dangerous of criminals. In an extremely unfortunate turn of events, Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists on its way to a world peace summit and crashes into the Manhattan area. The U.S. President (played by Donald Pleasence), being the only survivor of the crash, is now trapped in the worlds largest prison. The police decide to send in Snake Plissken, an ex special forces soldier tasked with sneaking the President out of New York.
First off, I absolutely love the premise of Escape From New York, even though it is a little far fetched and out there. I know director John Carpenter loves to put hidden themes and meanings in his work (like in They Live and Halloween), and I feel this applies to Escape From New York as well. I think this is a sarcastic and satirical look at both the increase crime rate in the United States during the eighties and the Cold War.
I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter’s style of filmmaking. I love how he sticks to low budgets and practical effects in his films, as it gives this authentic and gritty tone. All of the scenes of New York in the film look like they were shot in real run-down neighborhoods. It gives the viewer a good look into the dark and cynical place New York has become.
Snake Plissken has always kind of reminded me of Boba Fett from The Empire Strikes Back, in that we don’t really know much about him other than he kicks ass. Plissken uses a very minimal amount of dialogue, and when he does talk you know he means business. Kurt Russell cast as Plissken is a fantastic choice, as he gives the character this macho-guy attitude that I really admire. The whole film Russell does this sarcastic Clint Eastwood impression while squinting his eye. I’d have to say that Snake Plissken is probably the best and most enjoyable part of the whole film.
Escape From New York is a modest sci-fi film with all the right details. The props, sets, costumes, etcetera, all fall perfectly into place to deliver a visually interesting and exciting experience. While unfortunately none of the characters get much development or backstory, Kurt Russell still manages to steal the show with one of science fictions most bad ass characters to date.
The Verdict: B+