Escape from L.A.

Escape from L.A. ★★★

Film #12 December Challenge 2017

John Carpenter's Escape From New York is rightly regarded as a cult classic. Few films envisaged such a nightmarish dystopian future for the Big Apple and America in general. It was paranoia overload, perfectly pitched by Carpenter and his leading man Kurt Russell who certainly made an impression as Snake Plissken. Carpenter had given us an antihero with balls as big as dumpsters and an attitude to match, and if Carpenter had written and made a sequel fairly soon afterwards we'd probably have had a successful franchise. Instead, 15 years later, we got Escape From L.A., a film that had flashes of potential and Russell returning to arguably his most famous role, Stuntman Mike not withstanding, but this has more roll-your-eyes moments than you'd like.
Fundamentalist Christians will probably be the catalyst for the end of civilisation as we know it. Forget ISIS, they only have a problem with pork products, but in Escape From L.A. the President has banned sex outside of marriage, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, red meat, guns, freedom of religion, and profanity, basically most of the fun things in life. I'd have been fucked for my behaviour this afternoon, sex with my Muslim girlfriend while having a beer and a bacon sandwich, not to mention all the swearing and filling in my application to become a Scientologist, Jesus, they'd have either been electrocuting me or sending me to the island of L.A. with my surfboard. Just like in New York, Snake gets caught yet again and tasked with a mission of national importance that will save the new Moral America from an invasion. We get another revolutionary weirdo, even wilder theatrics from a host of small cameo parts, and Plissken kicking yet more ass as he strives to stay alive. There are some cleverly introduced satirical elements, the freakish Beverly Hills surgeon and his plastic surgery obsessed ghouls, the sunken Universal Studios where a shark tries to eat Snake's mini-sub, and although they make you chuckle, you can't help but feel it's just a bit too campy. The original was subversive and violent, this has many more comedic traits, with the likes of Steve Buscemi's Maps to the Stars Eddie, Valeria Golina, and Pam Grier bringing more laughs than thrills and excitement. Russell does do this role in his sleep, and I'd still be up for another instalment, but it would have to be much better than this one.

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