Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Escape from New York (1981)

Kurt Russell is Snake Plisskin (in my head I want him to be wearing snakeskin trousers), a high profile criminal who has just been given an offer he can't really refuse.  He can have his criminal record expunged as long as he ventures into Manhattan Island (now a prison city) to rescue the President, whose plane just crashed there.  A cool idea, and the film is full of John Carpenter's smart direction, moody lighting and familiar faces.  However it does suffer from looking quite dated; and not in a forgivable Terminator kind of way.  Some of the dialogue is really quite clunky, and Kurt Russell never truly looks comfortable in his role (amazing that only a year later he's excellent in The Thing).  Lee Van Cleef also never seems to settle and delivers his lines like an automaton.

Familiar faces such as Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton (Alien) and Blofeld Donald Pleasance as the President, flesh out the Manhattan prison.  But I'm afraid not even John Carpenter's score that he composed himself can make this more than an average film in my eyes.  Not to worry though, JC and KR will return next year with a superb interpretation of Who Goes There.