Escape from New York

Escape from New York ★★★★½

DirectorQuest: 38/100
John Carpenter: 2/5

"You're a cop!"
"I'm an asshole."

Oh John Carpenter synths, how I love you. You would be hard-pressed to find a movie that's as distinctly "cool" as I found Escape from New York to be. A cool atmosphere, a great cast, a fantastic musical score, and a main character who's immediately one of the coolest action heroes I've come across. (Also, young, gravely voice Kurt Russell can fucking get it, holy shit.) To compare the film to the acclaimed video game series Metal Gear might seem reductive at first, but for those more familiar with that than this, I think it's a good way to frame just how good this movie is. It's hard for me to put this film in a definitive box, just like it's difficult to put Metal Gear in a definitive box. This is an action movie, it's also a sci-fi/dystopia movie, it's also kind of an espionage film and an adventure film too, it's a whole lot of movie packed into a badass package. This happens to be my first time seeing a non-horror effort from John Carpenter, and it's neat to see his flair so smoothly shifted from scares to thrills. Don't exactly expect the thrills that come from something like consistent fireworks or gunshots. This is a movie that despite its assuredly intentional schlocky script takes the time to get the audience accustomed to its world and its characters, and these characters get the best people possible to portray them. Kurt Russell, Harry Dean Stanton, Isaac Hayes, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, and Donald Pleasence as the President in one of those castings that makes you go "I would never think of that, but it works so well." The film is also that right mix of something being "pulp" and dated while still having a lot of intrigue to offer to modern audiences. A few decades after its initial release, and I really think this hasn't lost a single bit of its luster. Though perhaps not to the same level of genius and fun, the film Escape from New York reminded me most of is Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the two would make for one helluva double feature. It's masculine entertainment at its best, not too macho to the point of toxicity, but with that tinge of sweat, muscle, and ticking clock intensity that gets the blood pumping. Long story short, absolutely dug it.


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