Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★

I think this is the first time I sat through this entire film – even considering myself a fan of SF! For some reason I don’t respond as well to John Carpenter as I would like to. Most of his films attract me from the outset, but end up under-delivering on entertainment - with some exceptions. Escape From New York is not one of those exceptions, although it’s not that bad either. Kurt Russell’s macho swagger is perfect for the role of professional criminal Snake Pliskin, tasked with entering a future (now well past) version of Manhattan turned into America’s only high security prison in order to rescue POTUS after his plane crashes into 8th Avenue. Garishly attired gangsters stand in his way, naturally, led by a pimply looking dude called "The Duke” (Isaac Hayes). The premise is extremely daft, but the sort one appreciates from a nostalgic point of view, because as kids in the 80's we would also have been playing video games with equally silly premises, not to mention watching a myriad of copycat movies, TV shows, and action cartoons, to then reenact the silliness with plastic, muscle-bound action figures. Even to this day, the Escape From NY formula keeps reappearing, although probably more and more in the direct-to-video pile. At least for me, as far as Escape from NY is concerned, the viewing experience is rather joyless and the action underwhelming (or simply dated as the film offers no particular nostalgic value for me other than its effect in pop culture to overlook it). The cast includes heavyweights such as Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine in supporting roles, but not utilized to their fullest potential. The script seems to be written for the very lowest common denominator. I know I’m asking for too much, but it leaves the film feeling less than stimulating for me. I really wanted to enjoy this more, but had to fight off the impulse to second screen due to boredom in the middle. I don't feel it's completely a 2.5 star affair, although the 3 I give it is on the weak side. On a brighter note, the theme music by John Carpenter is great.

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