HDNet movie channel showed Escape From New York last April. Neither The Beloved Spouse nor I had ever seen it before—gasp!—so we gave it a spin last week. Not since Rollerball have I been so disappointed with a movie I’d heard so much about. God, it was terrible. What didn’t I like? With apologies to David Letterman, here are the Top Ten Things That Suck About Escape From New York:
- The premise. I knew about the whole “Manhattan Island is a prison” thing, but I’d always had an idea it took place a couple of hundred of years in the future, when New York had become such a shithole not even hedge fund managers would live there. Turned out the film looks forward fewer than twenty years (from 1981), so we’re supposed to believe the most expensive real estate in the world was condemned, seized under eminent domain, and everyone moved out so they could create an open-air prison. Really, Seth? Really, Amy?
- The universe inhabited by the story. Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) gets more or less free run of things (and of Adrienne Barbeau) because he has apparently found a way to make
- While we’re at it, why were cars left behind at all?
- There is some electricity. Generated how? (See Number 2 above.)
- What are these people eating?
- What’s the plumbing and sanitation situation? The streets were full of debris. Where was all the garbage and shit? (I mean “shit” literally in this case.)
- They put small explosive devices in Snake’s neck to rip apart his jugular and carotid if he’s not back in 23 hours. These can be disarmed by a hand-held X-Ray device. Huh? And why is his death watch set for 23 hours when he needs to have the president out in 22?
- Since the alleged good guys know Snake is bringing the President out on the 69th Street Bridge, why is their only support to drop a line over the wall? Maybe they don’t give two shits about Snake, but this was all set in place to save the President. Once they find him, wouldn’t you think at least a few helicopters would scramble?
- Who remembered to pick up the critical tape that provoked all the fuss? In one scene the Duke’s Secretary of State has it, and Brain guts him. No one thinks to search him for it, but there it is in the cab five minutes later.
- Speaking of that tape, what the fuck? There’s a summit meeting the president has to be at by a certain time or China and Russia go home, and the critical information they need to achieve world peace is on a cassette tape the president has to hand deliver? For real?
“Did everything suck?” you may ask. Not everything. (The soundtrack did, though. Just
It’s entirely possible the best thing about Escape From New York was that James Cameron, who was the DP and FX guy, was able to learn what not to do before making The Terminator. If you’re looking for a near future (now near past) dystopian thriller, that’s the one to see.