Escape from L.A.

Escape from L.A. ★★

The follow-up chapter to John Carpenter's Escape from New York also happens to be the only sequel he ever directed. Definitely a more ambitious undertaking than the original, Escape from L.A. features few relevant themes that make more sense today yet is severely marred by its cartoonish effects, campy tone & over-the-top action.

Set 16 years after the events of the first film, the story follows Snake Plissken as he's once again called in by the U.S. government to recover a potential doomsday device from Los Angeles, which has now become an autonomous island where the undesirables are deported. Forced to carry out the mission, Plissken must retrieve the device that can send the entire world back to stone age.

Directed by John Carpenter, the sequel is more or less a parody of the original and is inferior in almost all aspects. The plot follows a similar path as the first film but the seriousness is completely lost this time, thanks to the terrible digital effects & cheesy treatment of the material. The character of Snake Plissken is still a badass but even he can't save a film that's suffering from so many inadequacies.

The action set pieces range from impressive to laughable. Supporting characters are mere caricatures and not at all compelling. The post-apocalyptic setting is still intriguing but the laughable CGI ruins the intensity of those grim moments. Many of the themes the film addresses work better today than they did back then. And Kurt Russell returns as Snake Plissken with all his qualities in tact and is at his best during the final moments.

On an overall scale, Escape from L.A. had promise but it fails to make the most of the strong foundation that was laid down by its predecessor. The film is at its best when CGI is nowhere to be found and that finale is impressive enough to redeem some of its shortcomings. Still, the film as a whole doesn't hold a candle to the last chapter and apart from Kurt Russell's raw appeal & solid input, not much is worth salvaging here. In a word, forgettable.

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