Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery Monthly Movie Club – Escape From New York (1981)

I would like to start out by saying this is the first of two reviews from the latest showing from Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery Monthly Movie Club and I would suggest fans to check out the site and come and join the club.

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Director: John Carpenter

Writer: John Carpenter, Nick Castle (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins

 

Plot: In 1997, when the US President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cult Classic Filled With Venom

 

Story: Escape From New York starts by taking us into the future 1997 (now the past) where Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison with no guards and no escape. When the President’s (Pleasence) plane gets hijacked and hauntingly crashed into Manhattan island right when the world is looking to become at peace. Everyone on the American side is panicking and an organised rescue mission is out of the question. Hauk (Cleef) the warden takes a chance to offer soon to be prisoner Snake Plissken (Russell) a pardon if he can retrieve the President and a tape important to the peace talks. Hauk injects Snake with explosives that will detonate in 22 hours before sending him on his way.

Snake arrives in the city by landing on the World Trade Centre where he ends up meeting a string of colourful criminals with some being good Cabbie (Borgnine) Brain (Stanton) and the evil Duke (Hayes) who runs the island. We follow Snake as he locates the President and has to find a way before the explosives go off killing him.

Escape From New York is always considered a bit of a cult classic with the easy to follow race against time rescue mission. We get the traditional mix of villains with the anti-hero having to navigate and for the most part know who he can trust. We also have the all too generic last resort being the criminal, granted this was one of the early usages of the idea. While certain parts of this film have dated it would be fair to say the most part this still looks very fresh and puts us into a world where the future is different to anything we could have imagined. I do feel this is what the action genre was always about the fun of slightly over the top action and tough guy persona leading the way. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Kurt Russell: Snake Plissken is the ex-special force soldier who has fallen onto the wrong side of the law. He gets given a chance for a pardon but then gets betrayed by Hauk giving him just 22 hours to save his own life and save the President. Snake has a tough guy persona playing everything cool even if the odds are completely against him. Kurt gives this character the mark of being the coolest character he has portrayed on film. (8/10)

 snake

Lee Van Cleef: Hauk is the warden of the prison who comes up with the idea of putting Snake on the one man mission to save the day, he is smart enough Snake could be a slippery customer but shows faith in him even if he starts to think the mission could have gone wrong. Lee does a good job in the power position trying to cover his own arse. (7/10)

 

Ernest Borgnine: Cabbie just seems to show up when Snake needs wheels or directions, he makes for good comic relief as he doesn’t seem to take the situation too seriously. Ernest does make for a good supporting character. (7/10)

 

Donald Pleasence: President who spends nearly the whole film captured by The Duke and has to play the prisoner to the prisoners in a clever role reversal. Donald does a solid job but never gets to show off his acting skills. (6/10)

 

Isaac Hayes: The Duke is the king of Manhattan and after what could have been the coolest and awkward entrance with his chandelling cover car we get to see how what he says goes and that he wants out with the President being his leverage. Isaac makes for a good villain of the piece and wants just what all prisoners would want, freedom. (7/10)

duke

Support Cast: Escape From New York has a supporting cast of weird and wonderful characters but the stand out two have to be Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) and Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) who help Snake along the way.

 

Director Review: John Carpenter – John showed how he can challenge anyone with his action films even if they are not all the cops and robbers, focusing more on the future we could have. (9/10)

 

Action: Escape From New York is filled with action, we have bullets flying all over the place, stealth like kills and a brilliant car chase across a mine filled bridge. (9/10)

Sci-Fi: Escape From New York takes us into a bleak future where everything is a lot darker with Manhattan being a prison now but it also gives us the chance to see how close we could have become to peace. (8/10)

Settings: Escape From New York turns Manhattan into a warzone with prisoners coming out of every corner looking for their next victims. A point has to go out for a brilliant shot looking at Manhattan from a distance with the Twin Towers front and centre, very haunting image. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Escape From New York does use very dated computer technology but for the most part never relies on the special effects. (8/10)

Suggestion: Escape From New York is one that all action horror sci-fi fans must watch because it really is just easy to watch and enjoy. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Snake in general.

Worst Part:  Let’s be picky here and go with the idea of how Air Force One got hijacked in the first place.

Action Scene Of The Film: Car chase across the land mined bridge.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has a sequel ‘Escape From LA

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $25 Million

Budget: $6 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: 1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane.

Trivia: Clint Eastwood was considered for the role of Snake Plissken. Kurt Russell based Snake on Eastwood.

 

Overall: Escape From New York really is a classic that should be watched by all because once you do the best eye patched character will no longer be Nick Fury it will be Snake Plissken.

Rating 80

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One comment on “Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery Monthly Movie Club – Escape From New York (1981)

  1. Pingback: 2015 Watched List Part 16 | Movie Reviews 101

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