James’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm genuinely appalled with myself. I have seen the derided sequel to this film, Escape from LA, multiple times but never thought to watch the original, until now.
Kurt Russell is outstanding in what is probably his most iconic role, discounting Ray Tango of course. You could argue that Snake Plissken is an amalgamation of tough guy tropes, more of a vibe than a fully rounded character, but what a vibe and Russell carries it off with such knowing swagger, making him the perfect center of the chaotic world Carpenter has concocted.
The film making and storytelling is impeccable throughout. World building is lean, propulsive and simple, a quality that is sorely missing from many convoluted modern action movies that are more concerned with creating extended universes than simply delivering one good movie.
Carpenter is very much a film maker from the less is more school of directing, and by keeping things simple he allows the characters time to breath and crucially allows the audience to invest in them. He's also helped in no small part by the fact that he has stacked his cast with every recognizable character actor known to man.
It's a madcap dash through a brilliantly realised dystopian New York, all topped off with truly spellbinding cinematography from Dean Cundey and yet another pulsating, iconic Carpenter score. Loved it.