Escape From New York

Escape From New York (1981)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Crime, Sports & Recreation  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action, Escape Film  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Matthew Doberman

John Carpenter is a cinematic virtuoso, and his talents as a writer, director, and even composer are all at the forefront of Escape From New York. Given the mere seven-million-dollar budget, the film is a technical achievement as well as a testament to Carpenter's ingenuity. These were the days before computer-generated special effects; the aerial city view, for example, was an actual physical model that Carpenter painted and filmed -- there's nothing digital about it. At the time, Kurt Russell was best known for his roles in family films, and it's safe to say that Escape sent his career in a more profitable direction. His growly performance as the eye-patched Snake Plissken is one of the more memorable cinematic bad-guy heroes. For all its strengths, the film has a rather slow pace and never really develops much suspense, even in the action sequences. Regardless, there are many great scenes and images here; the view of the unlit, desolate New York City skyline is particularly memorable. In the years since its release, the film has gained a solid cult following and given rise to many imitators, particularly on the Italian filmmaking scene.