Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★

Painting a dismal, desolate & decaying portrait of New York City from mere scraps of filmmaking materials, John Carpenter's Escape from New York brings its brilliantly imagined dystopian future to cinematic life in a smooth & efficient manner, and is also notable for creating one of the coolest badass characters to grace the film screen.

Set in the then near-future of 1997, the film features Manhattan Island as a maximum security prison in the crime-infested United States. The plot follows Snake Plissken, an ex-soldier & convicted felon who's asked to rescue the US President & his precious cargo from the deserted land within 24 hours in exchange for full amnesty.

Co-written & directed by John Carpenter (Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween & The Thing), it's amazing just how authentic the dystopian environment looks despite being filmed on a shoestring budget. The premise follows a simple A to B route but it's the little details & characters that make the whole film enriching on so many levels.

Set pieces are wonderfully detailed. Cinematography encapsulates the picture with a dark & bleak atmosphere and manoeuvres the camera in a controlled fashion. Editing keeps the plot moving at all times although there were a couple of moments that felt unnecessary to the narrative. And lastly, Carpenter contributes with a fitting score that ranks amongst his finest compositions.

Coming to the performances, the film packs a formidable cast in Kurt Russell & Lee Van Cleef, with Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton & others in supporting roles. Exuding a high level of badassery & coolness, Russell delivers a fantastic performance as Snake Plissken and it remains one of his most memorable roles to date. Van Cleef isn't far behind & plays his part with panache.

On an overall scale, Escape from New York is a thoroughly captivating, consistently entertaining & sufficiently satisfying effort from John Carpenter, and is another quality addition to his filmography. Oozing with a raw style, not devoid of substance & benefiting from Kurt Russell's strong input, it's an expertly crafted & skilfully directed dystopian sci-fi actioner that has aged well over the years, and is absolutely worthy of your time & money.

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