Movie Review 2007 #31: Escape from New York

The cult classic, directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, Donald Pleasance, Ernest Borgnine and Isaac Hayes


“Call me Snake”
In a dark, fascistic, grimy 1997, NYC has been the one maximum security prison in the US for the last 6 years. Into this hellhole come two men–the President of the United States, whose plane is hijacked and forced to crash into one of the buildings in downtown Manhattan. He carries a crucial tape that might end the long standing war with Russia and China…
And the other man is bank robber, former war hero Snake Plissken, the only man capable of getting him out in time…
Sure the movie has plot holes galore, but the plot is beside the point. The depiction of a grimy, ruined Manhattan, the individualistic, nihilistic Snake Plissken is what makes this movie work and work it does. He is a captivating, strong character whose high action exploits, from landing the glider on top of the WTC, to his deathmatch fight in Madison Square Garden, are riveting. And New York City in this alternate 1997 is a character of its own.
The other performances, from Lee Van Cleef as Police Commissioner Hauk to Borgnine’s Cabbie are lots of fun.
“A number one” indeed.