Science fiction and fantasy
Escape From New York
directed by John Carpenter
Lt. S. D. "call me Snake" Pliskken (Kurt Russel) is an elite soldier gone bad, himself facing imprisonment in the island. He's given the chance of a pardon if he can rescue the President (Donald Pleasance) within 24 hours. But the police commissioner (Lee Van Cleef) doesn't trust Pliskken. So he has tiny bombs implanted in Pliskken's neck, set to detonate if he doesn't return in time with the President.
It's a pretty absurd setup. When the President is in trouble don't you always pick your rescuer from the equivalent of Death Row? And when siting a maximum-security prison for the country's worst offenders, why put it in the middle of nowhere when you could wreck prime New York property instead?
Escape From New York is basically just an excuse for a lot of battles in an urban wasteland peppered with famous landmarks. Throw in some crazy punks with bad haircuts, a car chase, a few fights, and a ticking time-bomb for good measure. It could be exciting.
However Snake Pliskken is surly without being witty, and the overall effect is that he's about as charismatic as a nematode. The other characters don't fare any better, being little more than clichés. The movie may be action-packed, but it's hardly engrossing when its characters are so unappealing.
Unfortunately the characters aren't the only part of this film to be badly thought out. The story is more future fiction than science fiction, and it's the result of an extrapolation taken to extremes. This oversimplified scenario is never fully explored so we aren't told why the crime rate rose, or why Snake Pliskken went off the rails, or why the President is so unpopular with a certain group of terrorists. All of this is incidental to the more important business of crashing into stuff, blowing things up, and staging fistfights. There goes another