Garrison Fox’s review published on Letterboxd:
Kurt Russell is the good-guy-turned-bad-guy-turned-good-guy with an eyepatch and an attitude. Call him Snake.
Escape from New York is set in a dystopian U.S. wherein Manhattan has been transformed into one big prison cell. If one looks past the B-movie trappings, an analysis arises: The criminals within the prison are free to do whatever, but, after the initial years of anarchy, they eventually establish an enclave complete with factions and hierarchies. It's still pretty anarchic, but the hierarchy includes the Duke of New York, the subway outcasts, and an upper middle class, as it were, who enjoy stage productions. One prisoner even tells Snake not to walk around certain parts at night, implying the existence of safe neighborhoods. Add a little gladiatorial combat and hints of an oil economy, and you got an interesting look at how an isolated population with few resources recreates society, à la Lord of the Flies.
Unfortunately, Carpenter goes in a more cheesy, action movie direction, missing out on a deeper sociopolitical commentary. Plus the film is unevenly paced with a few throwaway characters, but the synth score is sweet, and that ending's pretty funny.