Escape From New York

"In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple: once you go in, you don't come out." - (narration)

release year: 1981
genre: sci-fi/action/adventure
viewing setting: home DVD, 5/11/19 and 9/25/17 and 11/6/14 and 10/13/12 and 11/29/00 and home laserdisc 7/18/97 and many other times before that

synopsis: In the near future, all of the country's prisons have been amalgamated into one: Manhattan Island, a walled, separated place; and once you go in, you don't come out. But when the President is lost in the prison city, someone has to go in and get him. Who better than the one-eyed, sneering, presumed-dead convict Snake Plissken?

impressions: This is a classic of the genre, and was much-imitated in its day (kinda like Die Hard.) It offers a great dark view of the world back in 1981, when things were different. The mood of the city-turned-prison of New York is undeniably powerful; John Carpenter outdoes himself here. Everything is bleak, and there aren't really any good guys, and you never know what's going to happen next.

something this movie has that no other movie has: A fight with nail-filled baseball bats.

acting: Kurt Russell plays a good, mean, tough protagonist, someone who's the good guy but is also rough around the anti-hero. Donald Pleasance plays a soft, weak President. Supporting roles include Issac Hayes as the Duke of New York, Harry Dean Stanton as his resident tinkerer "Brain", Adrienne Barbeau as Brain's woman, Ernest Borgnine as a flippant cab driver, and Lee van Cleef as a tough head cop. Good show by all.

final word: Great dark-future movie from the 1980s.

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